Physical Fitness and Our Aging Population

It’s not a secret that we are living longer. Is this a problem? Medical technology certainly has much to do with prolonging life, yet just living longer does not mean you are living a healthier life. For example, simply walk through nearly any senior apartment complex and look at how many folks are sitting watching television all day long – just sitting all day long. Are these seniors healthy? Or, are they aging more slowly than their parents did due to increased medical advances and medications?

So, how to change this situation? Physical activity is the answer. Now I know that doesn’t surprise most of you, however, the scope of the affect of regular physical activity on developing a “healthy” life style is impressive. Regular exercise can even go so far as to eliminate the need for medical intervention with regard to many of our illnesses that seem to be so prevalent in today’s world. An example would be diabetes. We would agree that many people are overweight. We would also agree that as we age, we tend to put on needless pounds. And, we might also agree that many of those needless pounds are a direct result of a lessening of regular physical activity (not to mention an unhealthy diet).

Granted the life style of the day was not as advanced with respect to exercise as it is today, so the proliferation of “gyms” as we understand them now had not yet begun. Also, “back in the day,” people’s routines lent themselves to more exercise (i.e., cutting their own lawns, shoveling their own driveways in the winter, painting their own houses, etc.). Yet, we know now that regular exercise and better eating habits, or being “fit,” is the way to go if you want to live a healthier life.

That requires some effort on the part of an individual in order to achieve the desired result: live not only longer, but healthier.

Aging is not only the accumulation of genetic reactions in our bodies, but the accumulation of poor habits, in the forms of eating and physical activity. When we let “ourselves go,” we allow these poor habits to take effect on our already aging bodies, speeding the process along. Take for example the number one problem with our elderly – falling. Falling is the result of a person’s inability to maintain balance. This is a result of the person’s psychological fear of actually falling (and the resulting physical damage the person may incur, i.e., broken hip, fractured arm, etc.), and their physical inability to stop themselves from actually falling (which requires muscle strength). Thus, a regular routine of not only aerobic exercise, but also strength training would go a long way in helping to eliminate the incidences of falling, especially in our elder population. For as our muscles gain strength, so does our ability to control our bodies’ movements, thus the increase in the ability to prevent a fall.

Exercise, both aerobic and weight training, is the way to go, for all adults. The programs that include these two forms of exercise will assist in reducing the need for medical intervention, especially as we age. With less required medical intervention, our elder population can remain more independent for longer periods, and, isn’t that what we all fear the most, losing our independence?


by Jason Boelhouwer     

Published on Senior Homecare by Angel’s Website



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