This year approximately 108.7 million Americans are over 50 years old (about 34%). That includes 76.4 million Baby Boomers (1946 –1964). compared to 49 million Generation X (1964-1980) and 82 million Millennials (1981-2000) (AARP). In about five years, the world population of 65-year-olds will outnumber children under 5 for the first time in human history (US Census).
So, while the American population is aging, middle age is not what it used to be. In general people look, act and feel younger today at 50 then previous generations did at 40. People are more active today than our parents' generation.
While some declines are inevitable with age, others can be slowed or partially prevented with fitness and exercise activities. Changes we can modify with fitness: muscle mass, aerobic capacity, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, bone density, and blood sugar levels. Polls show that about half of 50-year-olds exercise on a regular basis.
- Exercise makes you tired. Not so. As you shape up, you gain energy, resist fatigue and stress.
- Exercise takes too much time. Really? 30 minutes, three times a week too much time?
- Golf and bowling are sufficient exercise. Truly vigorous sustained aerobics exercise improves the efficiency of your heart, lungs and burns are calories.
- The older you are, the less exercise you need. Not really you just slow down.
- Only younger athletes work out. Most older Americans enjoy fitness walking, cycling, skiing, swimming and weightlifting.
There is ample evidence that exercise is the key to a healthy and productive “Golden Years”
Older Americans who exercise regularly gain substantial protection against the three major killers in United States: heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Older adults beginning an exercise program should check with their physician before beginning vigorous exertion activities.
Secrets of success:
- Do something you enjoy. Join a group or go solo. “Just do it!”
- Start gradually to help prevent injury and frustration.
- Set a goal. Then enjoy your achievement.
- Listen to your body. Stop when it hurts.
- When exercising, warm up first, exercise and then cool down. Always remembering to stretch as well.
- Incorporate exercise into daily activities: take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk rather than snack. Include family and friends.
Include aerobics and strengthening in your program for total fitness.
Low impact aerobics activities such as cycling, swimming, and walking/hiking are preferred over high impact running/jogging.
Stretching that includes Yoga, Tai Chi are excellent for preventing injury and walking balance as we age.
Light resistance training (weightlifting) is excellent for building muscle mass. When you increase your muscle mass which will increase your metabolism, so you burn fats and carbohydrates more efficiently. That means less weight gain as we age.
As mentioned earlier, there are so many benefits to a regular exercise program. On a practical basis, older adults who exercise have fewer falls, have less chronic pain, require fewer doctor visits or medication while their quality of life improves.
Call us at Specialized Physical Therapy with questions about your current exercise program or ask your therapist and we can help you design a safe fitness program that works for you. We are available to help guide you on your fitness journey.
A special thank you to physical therapist, Mike Salerno, PT at our Pacific St location for the information in this blog.