News in the papers today that though people, on average, are living longer, many are not remaining active. They are spending longer being infirm.
The guidelines for a healthy life stay the same whatever the person’s age.
Evidence to support this has been published recently in America where, in a project based at Yale University researchers took more than 1,600 sedentary people between 70 and 89 years old who had some functional limitations, but who could walk about a quarter of a mile in 15 minutes or less, unassisted by another person or a walker. (Walking sticks were OK.)
Half of the participants got a health education programme involving regular in-person sessions and some stretching exercises, while the other group was told to aim for 150 minutes of aerobic activity as well as strength, flexibility and balance training both at the study’s facilities and at home.
Walking was the cornerstone of the programme.
The study followed participants for about 2.7 years, and found that the physical activity program cut the amount of time that people spent with a “major mobility disability”.
Previous findings from the same study showed that the exercise program lowered the risk of becoming disabled in the first place. This one showed that it speeded up recovery from an episode of disability and lowered the risk of subsequent episodes. Walking stick users began turning up without their sticks.
According to the report, the project showed the incredible power of physical activity. It’s the secret ingredient to successful aging in terms of quality of life. People who engage in physical activity have a lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, depression, cognitive impairment and functional decline.
The exercise program pretty closely followed the government’s recommendations for all adults, including older ones: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week, plus two strength sessions that hit all the major muscle groups.
But most people don’t get that much exercise, and that is becoming increasingly true as people age. Older adults need to be aware that exercise can greatly improve their quality of life by maximizing function as long as possible. Many believe that older age is for relaxing and that physical activity is somehow dangerous or unnatural, even though, for many, meeting the minimum activity requirements is doable.
- We understand there are lots of surplus walking sticks for sale. Priced in dollars!