Are You as Fit as a 101 Year-Old?

Are you as fit a 101 year-old? You may not in as good of shape as you thought.

“I’ve always been active and involved in sports,” says John Nagy, a chirpy 101 year-old. “And I love the social part of training.” Nagy is in a crew of about 30 mature fitness enthusiasts, all over the age of 70, who train daily at the Physical Activity Centre of Excellence (PACE) gym at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. They are part of an ongoing research project on strength and longevity spearheaded by Stuart Phillips, Ph.D., the director of PACE and a professor of kinesiology. “The data shows that being strong is as big a mediator in terms of long-term health as anything,” Philips says.

“Muscle is protective against cancer, it enhances survivorship in people with cancer, and it reduces the risk of mortality in people with hypertension, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.” A new The Journal of American Medical Association study revealed that if you can do 40 or more pushups in a row, you’re 96 percent less likely to deal with heart problems in the next decade than someone who can’t do 10.

As explained in a Men’s Health article, Phillips expects that in five years the government recommendation regarding strength training will be beefed up.  Instead of suggesting two strength sessions per week, Philips believes that it will recommend three to five. “Strength really is a buffer to mortality,” he says. “And more importantly, it extends your health span, so you can maintain a higher quality of life for longer.” He continues, “Starting around age 40, most people begin to lose muscle mass. It’s imperceptible at first but accelerates to about a pound per year by the time you’re 50. It’s easier to mitigate the slope of that decline by training more when you’re younger than it is to try to rebound when your muscle has wasted away.”

You’re never too old to increase your level of physical activity and exercise!  Any exercise that gets the heart pumping may reduce the risk of dementia and slow the condition’s progression once it starts.  So, fitness for seniors is especially important!

Are you overwhelmed by how to begin a fitness program?  Do you think you need a personal trainer?  Do you feel that exercise may feel like a chore?  Maintaining physical fitness can be easy – and fun!

  • Include your grandchildren in your new active lifestyle. Play catch or walk to the playground and push your grandkids on the swings.
  • Have a pet? Taking your four-legged companion on a brisk walk is a fun way to increase your heart rate and improve circulation.
  • Listen to your favorite song and dance for a few minutes! Be careful that your “dance floor” is clear of objects and that you have adequate room to “boogie.”
  • As the leaves – and branches – continue to fall during the unending rainstorms, increase cardiovascular endurance by raking leaves and picking up sticks. The raking motion will strengthen your arms and lifting the bags of leaves provides weight training.
  • Instead of working out for 30-minutes, try breaking fitness activities into three 10-minute “mini workouts” throughout the day. Begin your new exercise program slowly with moderate exercise and work your way up to more vigorous and challenging activities.

Regular exercise is beneficial for people of all ages.  Exercise helps to improve muscle and joint flexibility and keeps your heart healthy.  It also can improve sleep and helps to maintain a healthy weight.

As you age, staying active mentally is just as important as staying active physically.  At Fitness for Health, we can help you achieve both. Our unique approach to senior wellness focuses on helping you strengthen and maintain the skills that other workouts often overlook – including gross motor skills, mental processing, visual motor skills, personal training, group fitness classes and bone and joint health.  To learn more about our senior wellness programs, visit www.FitnessForHealth.org or call 301-231-7138.