Age Reversal Fitness
COMPARED TO THEIR sedentary counterparts, the fitness of older exercisers can lead people to believe fitness training can reverse or slow down the ageing process. When it can't help you live longer and doing too much — or too little — exercise can age you.
In our distant past, we were hunter-gatherers with bodies designed to be physically active. A fit 80-year-old with a similar physiology to an inactive midlifer would appear to be doing ‘Age Reversal Fitness.” But the midlifer is biologically older than their actual age, not the other way around. Older exercisers generally have a healthy lifestyle; as well as exercising, they follow a balanced diet and don't smoke or drink heavily. So, they are as they should be.
People confuse the effects of inactivity with the ageing process itself and believe certain diseases result from ageing at a time when our modern sedentary lifestyles have accelerated our underlying age-related decline. That contributes to the onset of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. In the UK, we need to be more active; under half of 24-year-olds meet the recommendation for aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises, and for 65-74-year-olds, it falls to fewer than one in 10.
Quality of life
Not only does exercise help prevent the onset of many diseases, but it can also help to cure or alleviate others, improving our quality of life. Studies show that recreational cyclists aged 55-79 can do everyday tasks quickly and efficiently because nearly all body parts are in excellent condition.
The younger you start exercising, the better.
Those who had exercised two to eight hours a week from their teens through their 60s had a 29-36% decreased chance of dying from any cause over the 20-year study period, according to an analysis of Americans aged 50 to 71. The study suggests active young people should keep their activity levels up, but also that those aged 40 and above should become more physically active to reap similar benefits.
In today's world, we have gotten away with problems related to our inactivity by leaning on the NHS for support. But our average life expectancy has increased rapidly, and our "healthspan" - the period of life we can enjoy free from disease - has not. According to a UK study, most people whose life expectancy will increase by 2035 will spend their extra years with at least four chronic diseases.
While pharmaceuticals constantly improve, exercise can do things that medicine cannot – no drug is currently available to protect against muscle mass and strength loss, the most significant factor in our loss of physical function.
Being more active is not only better, but it is also vital for the functioning of our broader society as it ages. In 2018, almost one in five Britons were over 65, while one in 40 were over 85. The number of people aged 65 and over will rise by more than 40% in the next 16 years. The average 85-year-old costs the NHS more than five times as much as a 30-year-old, analysis suggests.
What can you do?
Poor posture and repetitive motions can also cause tight and restricted movement, which is inherent in ageing. Muscles can tighten because they are trying to protect an unstable joint or compensate for weaknesses or biomechanical dysfunction occurring elsewhere or remaining in one position – when we sit for long.
Dynamic mobility exercises and flexibility are critical components of Meta-Age fitness. Flexibility in the joint's surrounding soft tissues and muscles is necessary for optimal mobility and posture. The exercises also call for mobility, stability and strength.
Physical activity is one of the cornerstones of a healthy life; starting to exercise regularly in your 20s and 30s will likely pay off later on. And if you're past that point, gently becoming active is better than nothing.