Are you 60, 70, or even 80 years old? It’s never too late to get started doing physical activity. It’s beneficial and essential to engage at that age.
By Lisa Ziegel:
As a trainer, I have worked with many clients older then 60, 70, even 80 years old. I like to say it’s never too late to get started doing physical activity, and it is certainly beneficial – even essential to be engaging in it at that age. Disabling conditions, such as osteoporosis (according to the international osteoporosis foundation, more than 200 million women are affected throughout the world, and the majority are over the age of 60), tend to result from a sedentary lifestyle. It is known that the effects of a disease of this type can be prevented or mitigated by a more active lifestyle. Yet this age group is at an even higher risk because they do not get enough activity.
According to a study conducted in Iceland, the type of lifestyle or lifestyle factor a person experiences in mid-life can affect behaviors practiced 30 years later. For example, people who smoke in their ‘50s are likely to be more sedentary in their ‘80s. Researchers questioned participants about lifestyle factors, such as relationship status (single or with a partner), economic (housing, job and education), type of commute to work and activity level at work. Physical measures included whether an individual was overweight or obese or had type II diabetes, heart disease or high cholesterol. After 30 years, some of these same subjects were given activity-measuring devices (accelerometers) to wear for a specified number of days. The length of time spent doing no activity was measured accordingly.
Not surprisingly, it was found that for the most part, middle-aged people who had a lower level of education, lived in a lower economic housing situation, or had a high BMI, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc., were sedentary for longer periods of time in their ‘80s or later.
That sounds like bad news, but the good news is that knowing this can help prevent sedentary lifestyles in older adults. By creating interventions specifically tailored to the risk factors identified here, outreach programs could be more effective. An example: For those who live in low-economic-income areas where options for activity are limited, referrals to facilities, such as YMCAs or community recreation centers, may help. Hospitals may also provide options for activities onsite. Financial aid is also available at many YMCAs for those who are unemployed or are employed but making low wages.
Other opportunities for intervention include working with heart disease patients, type II diabetes patients, and individuals diagnosed with high cholesterol or high blood pressure. This all ties in with the “Exercise is Medicine” movement in which health-care providers are being encouraged to prescribe physical activity specifically over medication whenever possible, or in conjunction with meds to stress its importance in a treatment plan for these conditions.
We know the lifestyle factors that contribute to diseases that are mostly preventable (osteoporosis, heart disease, sedentary behavior). Having insight into environmental factors that affect sedentary lifestyles can assist in interventions to help create a more active and healthier older generation.
- http://journals.lww.com/acsm- msse/Fulltext/2014/07000/Midlife_Determinants_Associated_with_Sedentary.11.aspx