Walking, weightlifting, flexibility training and other forms of exercise
can help seniors avoid disabilities normally associated with aging and even
reverse the aging process itself, a team of scientists has concluded.
Some decline in physical ability is an inevitable result of normal
aging, but inactivity can hasten this decline and result in all-too-rapid rates
of muscle atrophy, decreased endurance, and loss of flexibility and balance,
according to Kyriakos S. Markides, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of
Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
Reporting in the winter issue of Behavioral Medicine, the researchers
cite numerous studies that demonstrate the benefits of exercise on the aging
- A walking program for people in their 70s that reversed 22 years of
declining lung capacity in 22 weeks. The capacity of lungs to absorb oxygen
normally declines an average of 1 percent a year after age 40; those in their
70s recaptured the lung capacity they'd had in their 50s.
- A 12-week weight resistance program that more than doubled the leg muscle
strength of some participating women 64 years and older.
- A 12-month resistance training program for both men and women that increased
their muscle strength by 30 to 100 percent in the first three months, after
which point they reached a plateau and did not continue improving.
- A study in which people who exercised by walking several days a week decreased
their risk of disability and improved their ability to walk distances, climb
stairs, stoop, crouch, kneel, and carry objects. The risk of disability
decreased by one-third for whites and two-thirds for African-Americans.
Older people not only can slow down aging by maintaining regular
physical activity but also prevent chronic conditions, say Markides and
A sedentary lifestyle is the most prevalent modifiable risk factor for
coronPage: 1 2 Related medicine news :1
Contact: Kyriakos S. Markides, Ph.D.
Center for the Advancement of Health
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