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Ageing and Exercise
Aging affects every system of the human body. While nothing stops the ageing process reliable studies have shown that exercise can slow the decline seen in every system.
“If we had a pill that offered all the health benefits of exercise, would we not do everything humanly possible to see to it that everyone had access to this wonder drug, would it not be the most prescribed drug in the world?”
PHYSICAL ASPECTS OF AGEING
Every system of the body is affected by ageing:
MUSCLE deteriorates in its composition.
JOINTS AND LIGAMENTS lose their elasticity and fluid content.
BONE mass and density decreases with ageing and is worse for females than males.
HEART AND LUNG function is reduced with ageing. This leads to decreased resistance to fatigue, inability to sustain long periods of walking, decreased oxygen uptake and an increased energy-cost in walking.
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM changes include reduced brain weight and neuronal loss resulting in changes in cognition and communication over time.
PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEM changes lead to decreased reaction time and decreased balance.
SENSORY SYSTEM deterioration affect vision, hearing, tactile and vibratory senses and balance. Dizziness and vertigo are often present with ageing.
AGEING AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
No amount of physical activity can stop the biological ageing process. But there is strong evidence that regular exercise can minimise the physiological effects of an otherwise sedentary lifestyle and increase active life expectancy by limiting the development of chronic conditions.
There is also evidence for psychological and cognitive benefits of regular exercise participation by older adults.
Studies have shown the benefits of aerobic exercise in previously sedentary patients.
Vigorous long-term exercise elevates cardiovascular function and muscles adapt to be able to work more efficiently. Regular aerobic exercise reduces body fat and has a protective influence on the heart.
Prolonged participation in resistance exercise has clear benefits for slowing the loss of muscle and bone strength, which are not seen with aerobic exercise alone.
Exercise may be effective in counteracting age related changes in bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.