The Secret of Senior Fitness

The diet/weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar business.

So is the healthcare industry…

and the pharmaceutical industry…

and the health insurance biz.

Billions and billions and billions and billions.

In contrast, the amount of money being spent on health promotion and disease prevention last year in the United States was $11.78.

But, that’s okay.

Because, according to a group of studies published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers have identified a low cost solution that “not only helps maintain good health, but may even prevent the onset of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, osteoarthritis and dementia”.

And considering that the Baby Boomers have begun to enter their senior years, senior citizen health & fitness is about to become a major social & economic driver in the coming years.

So, we have to decide:

  • Do we want to spend billions & billions attempting to treat the symptoms of heart disease, dementia, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, alzheimers….?
  • Or do we want to spend $11.78 and prevent these diseases from happening in the first place?

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The Secret of Senior Fitness

So what is this low-cost secret to senior fitness?

According to these studies presented in this month’s Archives of Internal Medicine, it’s EXERCISE

  • Study # 1 showed that seniors with higher levelsof midlife physical activity experienced exceptionalhealth status among women who survive to older ages (70+) and reinforce the conclusion that physical activity improves overallhealth as we age.
  • A second study looked at the effectiveness of targeted exercise programs on the health-related quality of life of institutionalized senior citizens. Amongst this demographic, exercise produced an improvement in the overall quality of daily activities – walking, continence, nutrition and mental cognition.
  • A third study showed that 1 to 2 resistance training workouts per week produced significant improvements in the cognitive functions of 65 to 75 year old women.
  • A fourth study showed that a exercise program focusing on intensity helped women (65+) improve their bone mineral density, fall rate and cardio heart disease risk factors…with no increase in direct costs.
  • The fifth study showed that people 55+ are much less likely to experience cognitive impairment (dementia, alzheimers) as they glide into their senior years.

These studies back up previous research showing that:

  • High blood sugar levels significantly increase your risk of cognitive impairment (link)
  • Overweight/Obese seniors (60 – 75) were able to increase their physical fitness, increase their muscle mass and lose body-fat…all in 4 months. (link)
  • Daily physical activity is able to counteract  fat genes (FTO) (link)

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So, what are you supposed to do with all this info?

  1. Stay active
  2. Encourage your friends & family to be active. Healthcare costs associated with inactivity & poor diet and lifestyle choices are going to skyrocket as the bulk of the baby boomer population enters their senior years. Everybody ready for another economic meltdown?
  3. Encourage your employer / government to get proactive about rising healthcare costs by spending a little more on health promotion / disease prevention. Public health & fitness facilities and programs need to become a priority.

And, to do my part, I will post an article tomorrow about the type of fitness program seniors should be doing.

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11 comments

  1. This post has made my day because you sir have written the truth!! I’m a 58 year old black female, AKA African-American, who has exercised her way back from the brink of a health disaster.

  2. In the summer of 2001, I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, my A1c was 11.5 this was after walking into the doctor’s office with a blood pressure reading of 210/110. 5’3” 155 pounds I didn’t think I was that overweight but that’s what everyone says and besides I didn’t look out of place amongst the folks in my ‘hood. I had all the usual excuses for not exercising, too tired…too busy and all the other toos. I had severe low back pain, when I woke in the morning it took me at least 20 minutes to straighten up when I got out of bed. Climbing stairs was a nightmare and fast walking, much less running could only be sustained for one minute or less. I was a “hot” mess. But just like an anorexic doesn’t see their true body image and even recognize the health dangers, fat and obese folks look in that other fun house mirror that doesn’t reflect back how fat you really are.. My muscle to fat ratio must have been ridiculous.

    I had developed a heart mummer and an echo cardiogram became standard every time I went to my primary care. I was in the middle of an ocean I call, My Fallacy of Inevitability. It was my desire to not be a burden on my son as well as not be a thief to the next generation, which led me to look up on the WEB, the effects of aging. It was that research that led me to discover my number one problem, failure to move. Everything I thought that was coming upon me because of the aging process wasn’t. I just wasn’t moving so I began walking. The walking helped with my numbers for about two years, but I was only doing about 10 to 15 miles a week and I thought that was fantastic. Eventually everything, blood glucose numbers, blood pressure began rising again.

    In February of 2006 I began what I now call my Intentional Walking Program. I got on board with the 10,000 step program and my goal was to work up to five miles a day, 35 miles a week and I got there plus. My son had graduated from engineering school in Florida; I live in NYC-Brooklyn, and moved to the Puget Sound region in Washington State. I found out I could walk the flat sidewalks of NYC, but those hilly paths and sidewalks of Seattle and the hiking trails in the Cascades were a completely different story. So I ramped up the speed and increased my distances to 50 and sometimes 6o miles a week. I then began doing resistance training two times a week.

    Something happens to my body when I do strength training; I gain weight, so I’d begin a program and then drop it. It wasn’t until I said I need to do strength training no matter what the outward effects were because of what it does for long term blood glucose control, then two years later I dropped weight when I wasn’t looking for it. . I also did an experiment on a Saturday, I took blood glucose readings every half an hour and saw my blood sugar rise from a fasting level of 110 to 250 in 2 hours [Because I have a demanding office job and am an exempt employee who can’t leave until the job is finished, Saturday is my extended exercise day (12-15 miles) in case I’m stuck at work I still can get my total mileage in for the week]. Even though my numbers were going up, I still got in my miles that day then made an appointment with my endo to talk about what was happening. I also repeated that testing two more times and it came out the same. And note: I wasn’t eating a large breakfast; I only had two pieces of fruit, plums, before I began.

    My appointment with the endo led to an argument, he accused me of pigging out and I violently kept telling him, no I didn’t. It was time to go somewhere else. I had known that in this guys practice, I was the only patient he had that exercised, he told me, and his staff told me but he was treating me like all the other folks who didn’t do anything to change their medical outcomes. In the five months it took to get an appointment with another endo, I began reading as much on diabetes as I could. I purchased a medical research book called, Handbook of Exercise in Diabetes and began looking for something anything in the pages of the 500 page book on something that looked like me, and I continued to work out as I searched. Funny thing, people thought I had lost 50 pounds or more but I had only lost 10 pounds, more would come off later, and that included the fourteen pounds I gained when I began resistance training.

    Finally new doctor and with it came new understanding. I’m a type II because my beta cells wore out as my liver kicks out glucose at the drop of any kind of stress, physical, mental or emotional. Because the pancreas and the liver participate in a “dance” to keep the blood sugar in balance, my liver’s over activity just caused my beta cells to wear out. This new doc Is also into nutrition, metabolism, and obesity and does research, BINGO. Every type II is not the same type II as the one next door or done the block. With that understanding and a reduced medicine regime, my A1c dropped to 5.8, my blood pressure is down to 106-110 over 65/70 my last HDL was 70 (I couldn’t believe that) and my total Cholesterol was 160 with Trig. of 75. I can hit the stairs and often walk the six flights (three landing to each flight) to get to my office. I’m can bound out of bed in the A.M. and can walk for miles. I’ve gone down four dress sizes although my total weight loss is only 20 pounds so I’ve swapped out fat for muscle. I have no more heart mummer and I’ve reversed the effects of the damage done to my body when my blood sugar was out of control; however, please don’t confuse that with reversing diabetes

  3. Awesome story!!!!

    You should be so proud of yourself. Your story is exactly what people need to hear – that change isn’t going to be easy but it is possible. Even when things weren’t working they way they “should”, you stuck at it.

    Most people would have given up

    Re the diabetes research, I am reading a new book (Diabetes Rising – Dan Hurley) that explains a bunch of different theories/potential cures/treatments for diabetes – great stuff

  4. Yes, I say your post about that book, Diabetes Rising, and I put it on my Amazon Wish List.

    I had wanted to contact you about my story when I first found your site but it took this particular posting to get me moving to tell you my experience.

    I hope you do know that it is not only the “self-talk” and the misinformation and lies we tell ourselves that keep us from exercising, but it also is are social structure and friends who will sabotage or journeys to fitness and health. The saying, Misery Loves Company, is true, and the miserable’s surrounding us, the ones we give access to our lives will trip up one’s journey to good health.
    My journey has caused me to drop those around me who refuse to celebrate what I’m doing; however, their responses have made me aware of what I need to say to those who are seeking to move from victimization (my liver, my legs, my head – organ recital folks) to victor no matter the physical challenges.

    We must teach the next generation that taking care of oneself is neither selfish nor foolish and is necessary by setting an example of fitness and health in our own lives. We must understand that leaving an “inheritance” to our children and children’s children is not about money and/or financial gain but about being productive citizens who don’t put a drain on society. What a poor legacy I would leave for my grand and great-grand children if I, by manipulation through guilt and self-pity, forced my son to choose between investing in his children’s future and spending resources on me because I failed to take care of my health the best way I could. That is what I meant by robbing future generations.

  5. Very nice,..
    I was just browsing for relevant blog posts for my project research and I happened to discover yours. Thanks for the excellent information!

    regards

  6. Very interesting information from notthepest! I have a friend suffering severly from multiple fibroids and does’nt want to lose her uterus (who does?!) I have put her on a paleo kind of diet because obviously her gynaeclogist has’nt mentioned a word about diet. I cured myself of a similar condition (but mine was very minor). Being an Ayurvedic doctor we are taught a lot about diet. Lets see; hopefully I should have something positive to report in a couple of months….

  7. Some things are so damned obvious that we refuse to see them. We need to be reminded of this over and over again in different ways and motivated to do it until we actually act on it. Thanks for this post.

    I’m only 51, and relatively disease free so far, but I’ve already seen the distinctive effects of staying active vs. being passive for even a few months. My experience with being passive for a few months has taught me NEVER to do it again!

    With age, it gets increasingly difficult to get back into healthy activity after a layoff, but that is all the more reason to keep going, and when you have to restart, just be sure to find the appropriate starting point that doesn’t do too much too soon.

    My dad used to tell me how important it was to stay physically and mentally active, and he was only 40 when he started telling me that. At the time I thought he was exaggerating because to me he seemed like a “fitness nut” who swam several miles at a clip several times a week and did hundreds of pushups and dozens of pullups every morning. Now in his 80’s he is still going very strong and I’m marvelling at his wisdom all this time.

  8. nothepest: I am SO loving on you! That was a great story and one that I will relate to my friends and loved ones! I’ve been following this site for about a year and always pick up some good tips, but your story has really made my day! Thanks so much for posting and keep up the good work!!! MOST IMPRESSIVE! 

  9. Life is so beautiful, so I fight for my happiness aggressively, yes I am a senior and I’m proud of myself. Even though, some time ago I am a little lonely, but I have found my other half thanks to [seniorconnecting .com]. I believe you are also enjoy your life, so let’s be happy together!

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