Elderly people should exercise regularly
Many older people think primarily that age is the time to relax. But there are hardly any older people who think about an increase in physical activity. Researchers have now found that a regular physical activity program significantly reduces the time of disability due to reduced mobility in old age.
The scientists at the internationally recognized Yale School of Medicine found in an investigation that a regular program of physical activity can lead to great health benefits and reverse the muscle loss that occurs in older people. In addition, the time of restricted mobility in old age is reduced. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Annals of Internal Medicine".
Study on more than 1,600 older people
The researchers examined more than 1,600 people between the ages of 70 and 89 for the study. Some of the subjects had functional limitations, but each of the participants could walk the quarter-mile in 15 minutes or less, the authors say. This journey was made without the help of another person or a walker.
Subjects are divided into two groups
Half of all participants underwent a health education program. In this, the subjects completed stretching exercises, for example. The other group performed 150 minutes of aerobic activities, but also exercises on flexibility and balance. Movement was one of the cornerstones of the program, explains author Professor Thomas Gill of the Yale School of Medicine.
Aerobic activity leads to health benefits
The study observed the participants for about 2.7 years. The researchers found that physical activity reduces the time in which older people are restricted in their mobility. The number of people with reduced mobility was 25 percent lower in the aerobic activity group than in the health education program group, the researchers explain. Previous results from the same study showed that such a training program also lowers the risk of disability. As a result, those affected recover more quickly from episodes of the disability and the subsequent risk is also reduced.
Benefits from regular exercise
The new study shows the incredible power of physical activity. This is a secret ingredient for successful aging without sacrificing quality of life, the researchers say. People with increased physical activity are also at lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, depression, cognitive impairment, and functional impairments. Because of this, regular exercise can greatly reduce the cost of the health care system.
What exercise program is officially recommended?
The exercise program during the study pretty much followed the government's recommendations for all adults and the elderly. These state that 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercises or 75 minutes of strong intensity exercises per week are advisable. In addition, two sessions are recommended to maintain or increase the strength of all important muscle groups, the scientists add.
Not enough older people carry out aerobic activities and strength training
Most Americans do not get enough exercise and especially in old age there are fewer and fewer people who get the necessary exercise, say the doctors. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 28 percent of people over the age of 75 performed enough aerobic activity. Only eight percent of the subjects also received the proposed amount of strength training, the scientists explain.
Physical activity is by no means unnatural in old age
Older adults can significantly improve their quality of life through exercise. In this way, the body's functions can also be maximized. However, many older people seem to think that an older age is there to relax and therefore often suffer from a lack of exercise. Those affected see physical activity as dangerous or unnatural, the authors explain. Such an attitude is often omnipresent in older adults, even if most of the people meet the minimum requirements and can do enough physical activity, the doctors add.
Great progress was already seen after six months
In conversations with older people, many said they could not do the recommended exercises. Nevertheless, some people tried to become more physically active. These participants were instructed to start carefully and just walk slowly, the researchers say. Some of the subjects were able to do the exercises without sticks or other support measures after only six months, explains Professor Gill. This result was particularly rewarding for the participants.
Health systems should help physicians to combat lack of exercise
Doctors can also help older people get more exercise. Physicians can prescribe physical exercises such as physiotherapy. Such exercises can be as important as prescribed medication, the authors say. In their view, health systems should help doctors to cope with inactivity. This could also reduce other health risks.
People have to motivate themselves to move
There are some behavioral strategies for getting enough exercise. It doesn't matter what age people are. Exercise improves health and maintain mobility for longer, the experts explain. Doctors can help people start moving more here. Those affected should also motivate themselves to exercise more and set incentives to promote their physical activity. (as)