I was listening to Esther Rantzen talking on the radio the other day. She has now reached her 70th birthday and has recently attended a reunion of her college alumnae. She made the valid point that at this age the major difference between them was health. Those that enjoyed good health appeared up to 20 years younger than those who did not. In the UK the population is ageing. There are more of us over the age of 60 than there are under 16 and this figure is rising. The reason is the combination of fewer births and a decline in mortality of both young and older people.
Keeping healthy as you grow older is a goal everyone would like to achieve. Of course, there are outside factors that will affect how you age and if certain illnesses or conditions are prevalent in your family history such as high blood pressure, cholesterol problems or arthritis these need to be taken into account. However, being well informed about your own family history and seeking a healthy life style to minimise the risks make eminent sense.
How many of my older readers realise that strength training (working with weights) encourages muscle regeneration and that this type of exercise should be included in your exercise programme?
A large scale study conducted at the South Shore YMCA (Westcott and Guy 1996) compared the results of young, middle and older adults following an eight week training programme consisting of 30 minutes of strength exercise and 20 minutes of endurance exercise. This is two different types of weight training. Strength exercise focuses on using heavier weights for shorter repetitions and endurance exercise features lighter weights with more repetitions.
There were 238 young adults (21-40 years), 553 middle aged adults (41-60 years) and 341 older adults (61-80 years). All three groups began the programme with similar bodyweights and similar fat percentage readings.
After 8 weeks of exercise:
21-40 year olds lowered their bodyweight by 2.6 pounds and their body fat by 2.3 per cent. They had lost 4.9 pounds of fat weight and increased their muscle weight by 2.3 pounds.
41-60 year olds lowered their bodyweight by 2.0 pounds and their body fat by 2.1 per cent. They had lost 4.4 pounds of fat weight and increased their muscle weight by 2.3 pounds.
61-80 year olds lowered their bodyweight by 1.7 pounds and their body fat by 2 per cent. They had lost 4.1 pounds of fat weight and increased their muscle weight by 2.4 pounds.
his is an excellent example of what you can still do with your body even if you think you can’t!