Fitness Clearly a Fountain of Youth for Bone and
Decades of research show much
age-related deterioration is the result of the a sedentary lifestyles
and the development of medical conditions rather than of aging itself
28, 2014 - Being physically active may significantly improve
musculoskeletal and overall health, and minimize or delay the effects of
aging, according to a review of the latest research on senior athletes
(ages 65 and up) appearing in the September issue of the
Journal of the
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS).
It long has been assumed that aging causes an
inevitable deterioration of the body and its ability to function, as
well as increased rates of related injuries such as sprains, strains and
fractures; diseases, such as obesity and diabetes; and osteoarthritis
and other bone and joint conditions. However, recent research on senior,
elite athletes suggests usage of comprehensive fitness and nutrition
routines helps minimize bone and joint health decline and maintain
overall physical health.
“An increasing amount of evidence demonstrates that
we can modulate age-related decline in the musculoskeletal system,” said
lead study author and orthopaedic surgeon Bryan G. Vopat, MD. “A lot of
the deterioration we see with aging can be attributed to a more
sedentary lifestyle instead of aging itself.”
The positive effects of physical activity on
maintaining bone density, muscle mass, ligament and tendon function, and
cartilage volume are keys to optimal physical function and health. In
addition, the literature recommends a combined physical activity regimen
for all adults encompassing resistance, endurance, flexibility and
balance training, “as safely allowable for a given person.” Among the
Resistance training. Prolonged, intense
resistance training can increase muscle strength, lean muscle and bone
mass more consistently than aerobic exercise alone. Moderately intense
resistance regimens also decrease fat mass. Sustained lower and upper
body resistance training bolsters bone density and reduces the risk of
strains, sprains and acute fractures.
Endurance training. Sustained and at least
moderately intensive aerobic training promotes heart health, increases
oxygen consumption, and has been linked to other musculoskeletal
benefits, including less accumulation of fat mass, maintenance of muscle
strength and cartilage volumes. A minimum of 150 to 300 minutes a week
of endurance training, in 10 to 30 minute episodes, for elite senior
athletes is recommended. Less vigorous and/or short-duration aerobic
regimens may provide limited benefit.
Flexibility and balance. Flexibility
exercises are strongly recommended for active older adults to maintain
range of motion, optimize performance and limit injury. Two days a week
or more of flexibility training—sustained stretches and
static/non-ballistic (non-resistant) movements—are recommended for
senior athletes. Progressively difficult postures (depending on
tolerance and ability) are recommended for improving and maintaining
The study also recommends “proper” nutrition for
older, active adults to optimize performance. For senior athletes, a
daily protein intake of 1.0 to 1.5 g/kg is recommended, as well as
carbohydrate consumption of 6 to 8 g/kg (more than 8 g/kg in the days
leading up to an endurance event).
“Regimens must be individualized for older adults
according to their baseline level of conditioning and disability, and be
instituted gradually and safely, particularly for elderly and poorly
conditioned adults,” said Dr. Vopat.
According to study authors, to improve fitness
levels and minimize bone and joint health decline, when safely
allowable, patients should be encouraged to continually exceed the
minimum exercise recommendations.
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