Other than the reference to those over 45 being “older” people, this is a great article with encouraging news for adults who’d rather stick with their favorite impact exercises and save the silver sneakers for – well, someone else!
Thanks for sharing the link Dawn! (Key parts of blog captured below).
Is there any scientific study to substantiate the claim that older people (over 45) should limit high impact exercises such as jogging, sprinting, etc.?
…There is also little evidence to support the widespread belief that high-impact exercise speeds the onset of arthritis. In a 2013 study, adult runners, including many aged 45 or older, had a lower incidence of knee osteoarthritis and hip replacement than age-matched walkers, with the adults who accumulated the most mileage over the course of seven years having the lowest risk, possibly, the study’s author speculated, because running improved the health of joint cartilage and kept them lean as they aged. Similarly, a 2006 review of studies about jogging and joints concluded that “long-distance running does not increase the risk of osteoarthritis of the knees and hips for healthy people who have no other counter-indications for this kind of physical activity,” and “might even have a protective effect against joint degeneration.”
Running and similar high-impact activities likewise have a salutary effect on bone density, said Dr. Michael Joyner, an exercise physiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and an expert on aging athletes, of whom he is one. Over all, he continued, he is “skeptical” of the idea that older people should avoid high-impact activities. “A lot of concerns about age-appropriate exercise modalities have turned out to be more speculative than real over the years,” he said, adding that during his research and personal workouts, he’s seen many seasoned adults pounding the pavement without ill effects.
The general public consensus is that we lose muscle mass (size and strength, too) as we age. But there are notable exceptions to the rule — athletes who have performed exceptionally well into their 70’s and even 80’s. See the World master’s rankings. For example, in the 2012 10K rankings list there are 38 runners age 60 to 85 that ran the 10K in less than 40 minutes, including the US runner, Nolan Shaheed (35:26 10K, 60-65 age group) who has age group records at several distances.
Well known triathlete coach Joe Friel just posted in his blog an article about maintaining muscle mass and the notion that we are destined to lose muscle. He reviews the latest studies that actually show little or no muscle mass loss is due to aging. What, you say? There are athletes that maintain muscle mass well into their 70’s, the key is that they work at it. See the photo from coach Joe Friel’s blog at the right. The middle muscle scan photo is a stark reminder that we are too sedentary in our lives. From sitting at our desks for 8-10 hours all day then watching TV for 3-4 hours at night. How many of us do 1-2 hours of strenuous activity each day, or even 30 minutes as recommended? Less than 3% of the US population according to some studies I have seen.
There’s a second aging/sedentary lifestyle issue here, not only does a sedentary lifestyle cause you to lose muscle mass, it also causes the loss of nerve control of the muscles. Older, sedentary people have less nerve connections to their muscles, thus can’t recruit the muscles they have.
Just another brick in the wall of information that says that we must keep moving, keep exercising, keep the intensity up, and just don’t sit around. Guess I’ve been right to keep that big commercial walk-behind mower for the last 20 years. I’ve always joked that it was my exercise program — 2-3 hours a week of walking at 3 MPH in tight circles.
Just Keep moving!
According to the article in the Sept issue of Health magazine, “After a killer workout, hitting the gym again is probably the last thing on your mind. But… doing light exercise two days after a tough session is as effective as a massage for relieving aches.”
We all know that the soreness we feel is due to the tiny muscle tears that occur when we stress muscles to build muscle strength. Some light exercise a day or two after an intense one will increase your blood flow, promote healing and enable the muscles to move more easily.
The article calls out these mini workouts “to combat achiness”:
- Take a Walk – a 20 minute stroll at moderate pace around the neighborhood or on a treadmill.
- Hit the Pool – Swimming a few easy laps will warm up the body and boost circulation. And best of all – it’s super low impact so won’t jar your joints.
- Work Out Your Core – Balance, or core focused moves, like single leg squats or side planks improve blood flow, up overall fitness and still give whining muscles a break.
And when all else fails, I hear a day at the spa is a scientifically proven cure-all!
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What? Work harder but shorter to burn fat? Haven’t we always been told we need to spend endless hours at moderate effort to burn the extra pounds? Well more recent studies show that shorter, higher intensity workouts (think HIITS) actually results in more fat burn overall than the moderate exertion in a longer cardio workout. If these shorter workouts can really deliver results it’s great news for everyone ‘cuz what’s the number one excuse why people don’t exercise? that’s right… time!
So what is it about this higher intensity format and why shouldn’t you just hide before someone tries to make you do it?
First word. EPOC . Excess Postexercise Oxygen Consumption. Translation – burn up to 5x more calories AFTER your workout. That’s right. EPOC increases your metabolism and burns calories (and hence fat) for up to 24 hours following your exercise. This effect is not seen with low-moderate intensity exercises. (see this reference).
Second word. Interval. Without getting all clinical and technical, it simply means seconds of exercise followed by seconds of rest. Each exercise/rest cycle is called an interval. Now combine some intervals back to back and you have a set. Pretty simple really.
Third word. Effort. The other part of the equation. (you thought I was going to say intensity, right? but I know that word scares you…) The idea is, during those seconds of exercise, you’re supposed to “give it all ya got”, then rest, and repeat. There are different timing cycles, with the best known being 20/10 for 8 rounds totaling 4 minutes or Tabata timing. The key is to maintain the 2:1 ratio of exercise to rest. So 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of recovery, or 30 seconds of work and 15 seconds of recovery, etc.
So what high-intensity exercise should you try? BuiltLean.com has a menu of example workouts here that provides one framework for you to follow. There are many others out there, so browse around. But, one that we especially like, and is the basis for our Fitbata class, is progressive or mixed-interval training. In this method, rather than repeating the same move in a 20/10 pattern, you follow a 40/20-30/15-20/10 interval, adding effort and movement each time yielding a hard, harder, hardest approach where you control the effort.
So the next time you head to the gym for your regular steady-state aerobic routine, think of me – Short, but intense 🙂
Less time. Concerted effort. Bigger results.
Every time you talk yourself out of exercising or from stepping up your routine, you are jeopardizing your cognitive longevity. Consider these “mental health” benefits shared by the crew at Fun & Fit, and start feeding your brain with aerobic exercise!
- When you exercise hard enough to sweat you grow new cells — cells that are better and functionally younger.
- Physical activity leads to 5% more gray matter.
- Specific aspects of cognitive function such as task switching, selective attention, and working memory, all appear to benefit from aerobic exercise.
- Mental test scores improve for those who take part in an aerobic exercise regimen compared to those who do just stretch and tone classes.
Simplicity. What a concept. And for many it remains just that – a concept, and not something experienced in everyday life anymore. There’s nothing simple about juggling work, school, daycare, dinners, sports, concerts, cleaning and commutes. Now ask people to squeeze 30-60 minutes of regular exercise into their complicated lives and you’ve pushed them to the precipice of impossible!
Well take a breath, because it doesn’t have to be that way. There are simple things we can all do to improve or maintain our health and fitness levels and it has nothing to do with your local gym or fitness studio. A 2008 campaign for taking the stairs called Burn Calories, Not Electricity! reminds us that simple changes in our everyday routine can be surprisingly beneficial. According to the NYC.gov site, some of the Leaner and Greener Benefits of Taking the Stairs include
- Stair climbing burns almost 700% the number of calories you burn standing on an elevator.
- Just two minutes of stair-climbing each day burns enough calories to eliminate the one pound an average adult gains each year.
- Men who climbed at least 20 floors a week (about 3 floors a day) had a 20% lower risk of stroke or death from all causes, in one study.
- Stair-climbing has been shown to raise good cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health
- Stair use reduces energy consumption. An escalator that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, can use 28,000 kilowatt hours of energy over the course of a year. That’s enough to create 43,000 pounds of carbon dioxide – more than three times the amount a car produces.
If the only stairs you encounter are the ones in your home – use them! Many aging adults have a tendency to “plan” their trek to the basement or second floor of the house, accumulating enough tasks to be performed while on that level so as to avoid additional trips up or down the stairs. As the saying goes, “use it or lose it.” Don’t avoid your stairs, partner with them for a great home workout.
Deliberate incorporation of stairs in your life is one healthy choice you can make, but there’s more. I’m reminded of the kick my daughter got me on about 5 years ago. We pulled into the local shopping mall and I began circling around for the best – meaning closest – parking spot available. She quickly redefined the “best spots” to be those further away from the entrance… you know the ones where grass is growing out of the cracks and bits of gravel are still piled up from last years snow melt. I call this “distancing yourself.” Walk a little further to the store. Push your heavy grocery basket 50 feet more! And the next time you pull into the parking lot of the health food store or fitness center, ask yourself why you’re fighting to park by the door!
Here’s to keeping it simple! and to keeping your body in motion!
Well, that’s not exactly the whole story, but close. About a year ago my doctor informed me I had Osteopenia, or lower than “normal” bone mineral density (BMD), which can put me at higher risk of developing Osteoporosis. So, as all good doctors do, mine gave me a prescription.
The local pharmacy wasn’t going to be of any help however since the prescription was for “weight- bearing exercise.” Determined to hold on to my full 61 inches, and fight the typical loss of 2 inches by age 70, I searched the internet for information on weight bearing exercises. Dancing was on the list, along with gymnastics and jogging. The first two clearly required rhythm, considerable coordination, and the possible wearing of a pale pink leotard, so I chose jogging!
What most people fail to realize is that bone density increases or bones get stronger in response to loading or stress stimuli. Stresses like the impact felt when you run or jump (plyometrics). Where as an activity like swimming, though an excellent aerobic and muscle strength exercise, does not translate the same stress to the bones since you are suspended in the water.
So why run when walking is a weight bearing exercise too? Well, because of a little thing called adaptation, which our body does so well. If over the last year my routine was to walk 4-5 miles every other day at 4mph, my bones would respond – increase density and eventually adapt to that level of stress. To realize further gains however, I would need to increase the stress, by perhaps alternating walking with jogging, jogging with running, running with jumping…
Age-related height loss caused by bone-thinning is real, and can be an indicator of reduced strength, balance and higher risk of bone fractures. You can read more on this in the short feature from the May 29 NBC Nightly News.
I run because I’m five foot one!