DR. DOUG HADDAD & MATT
See their book Top Ten Tips for Tip Top Shape
Getting Down To Cellular Business: Why Exercise Is Good For You, Especially As You Age. By Douglas Haddad, Ph.D
Exercise training is an important factor for healthy living for anyone, especially the senior citizen. We have known that resistance training coupled with cardiovascular training can protect the individual against a number of the chronic diseases of old age. More importantly, it maximizes muscle strength and flexibility, metabolic function and overall athletic performance. In many instances, biological age is reduced by as much as 20 years and life expectancy is increased. Exercise can take place anywhere and the benefits can be reaped from a wide variety of physical activities.
You may be asking, “What can I do to stay competitive with those young whipper snappers? Is it possible to raise my performance up a level or two as I age?”
My SUPER HEALTH tip is to move more and quicken the pace. You don't have to take up residence at the local gym to get a complete workout. Moderate exercise can come from an array of activities, whether it's vigorous gardening, biking to work or taking a leisurely walk, just as long as it adds up to about an hour a day. Of course, the biggest leap forward is still vigorous exercise and the key is intensity. Your training heart rate zone is a critical element in exercise.
Here is how you breakdown your target heart rate for various intensities:
220 – (your age) = maximum heart rate
220 – (your age) x (your desired intensity)= heart rate for that intensity level
Ex. For a 40 year old:
220 - 40 = 180 beats/minute (max)
220 - 40 x 75% intensity = 135 beats/min*
A low and slow intensity is 60-70% of your
maximum heart rate
An intermediate intensity is 70-80% of your maximum heart rate
A high intensity is 80-90% maximum heart rate
How do our cells react to these different workout levels?
Maximal heart rate decreases with age mainly because of a decreased responsiveness to circulating catecholamines such as epinephrine, norepinephrine and growth hormone. Research has shown that there is a positive relationship between exercise intensity and the release of catecholamines during exercise. As exercise intensity is increased, a shift in substrate utilization occurs with an increase in carbohydrate metabolism (sugar burning). After recovery from high-intensity exercise, there is a shift toward fat oxidation (burning). This is where we witness the results from our hard work.
A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, which analyzed the exercise habits of some 5,209 Americans over a period of 36 years, found that those who did a moderate amount of exercise lived 1.3 to 3.7 years longer than those doing very little exercise. This type of activity can raise the HDL levels ("good" cholesterol) by 10%. Regular exercise can also lower insulin sensitivity -- a problem with metabolizing blood sugar that is frequently a precursor to diabetes by up to 80%.
Cardiac output is also increased, thus indicating higher levels of oxygen uptake and transport to the blood vessels throughout the body. The aging of oxygen transport progressively restricts the ability of the senior citizen to undertake the normal activities of daily living such as walking up a slight rise. An appropriately graded aerobic training program can augment the aerobic power of a 65-year old individual, effectively reducing the biological age of the oxygen transporting system by 20 years.
Building muscles for a lifetime.
A half hour of strength training three times a week for 8 weeks can result in an improvement of muscle strength even for those approaching super senior status (90+). Resistance training (with weights) reduces the risk of falls and reduces the risk and slows the process of osteoporosis. Protein synthesis (building muscle) proceeds at a slower rate throughout life. Much of the wasting of lean tissue can be avoided through consistent, resisted exercise.
Take the plunge into the water.
Age is no barrier because water support enables effortless movements. One can perform slow, deliberate exercises in the water and reach the same level of physical fitness from land exercises with many added benefits. Stress on joints is minimized by water support. Jumping movements up and down are lessened by water support. People with arthritis, back problems, weakened ankles and swollen or problematic feet will find it easier to exercise in water than on land. Muscles are firmed by water resistance. Endurance is increased and the heart and lungs are strengthened with slow movement. Target heart rates are obtained almost effortlessly. A factor to consider is to keep the aerobic cycle the same in the water as you would on land: warm up, increase intensity, reach peak intensity, maintain, steadily decrease intensity and cool down. This should all be done in the correct water and temperature environment recommended below 85 F. A rise in temperature can put a stress on the cardiovascular system. Consult a water aerobics instructor prior to performing unfamiliar water exercises.
Douglas Haddad, Ph.D. is the co-author of Top Ten Tips for Tip Top Shape and talk radio host of “THE DOCTOR DOUG SHOW” on live365.com Internet radio.
Dr. Doug Haddad and Matt DeLeo are not held responsible for any liability or losses of the use of our advice in these columns.