Keep fit live longer
We can't hold back the years, but we can help ward off some illnesses with regular Exercise. And you're never too old to start, says Pat Henry
In The Everyday Housewife, a great song by Glen Campbell, he reflects on what people see when they look in the mirror: staying young is the new quest for this generation.
"She looks in the mirror and stares at the wrinkles that weren't there yesterday, and thinks of the young man that she almost married, what would he think if he saw her today".
A positive attitude to health and a great diet are the keys to looking young and staying healthy.
For years people have been claiming to be too old for exercise even in their 30s. This is absolute nonsense. Age is no barrier when striving for improvement. The benefits outweigh any small effort you put in namely: looking good, having lots of energy and an overall sense of well-being.
A lot has been said about the great value of exercise in boosting health, but exercise can also reduce the risk and complications of specific health problems. Of course, exercise is not a panacea.
There is still controversy over the role of exercise in preventing common diseases such as breast and prostrate cancer and stroke. But here are my tips for warding off common illnesses and disease.
>Coronary Heart Disease
Beyond doubt, physical activity cuts the rate of coronary heart disease. The greater the 'dose', the greater the effect. The more physical activity you participate in, the lower your risk. Couch potatoes are 80pc more likely to develop coronary disease than the most active people.
>High Blood Pressure
Exercise cuts the risk of getting hypertension in half and also helps lower existing high blood pressure. A little exercise goes a long way: even moderate amounts of physical activity reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension.
While exercise does produce meaningful reductions in blood pressure, it rarely solves the entire problem on its own. Medication and other treatments may be needed in addition to physical activity to bring blood pressure into a desirable range. Physical activity should be considered as an important adjunct to the treatment of hypertension, not as a sole remedy.
>Colon and Rectal Cancer
The bulk of scientific evidence shows that an increase in physical activity protects against colon cancer -- but not against rectal cancer.
>Diabetes and Related Problems
Many older people have what's known as type 2 or non insulin dependent diabetes. This form of the disease is generally treatable with diet and oral medications. By the age of 65, about 40pc of the population has high blood sugar and many have a condition known as Syndrome X, or insulin resistance syndrome.
This is usually accompanied by a potbelly, high blood pressure and high blood fats. Physical activity cuts the risk of all these health problems, thereby cutting the risk of heart disease and stroke. Many people are surprised to learn that both weight lifting and aerobic exercise help reduce these risks.
Many people believe that exercise causes arthritis by placing stress on the joints. But, in fact, moderate regular exercise often relieves arthritis pain and disability -- particularly the pain of oesteo-arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These days, exercise is used as a key tool in the treatment of severe arthritis. Again, both aerobic and resistance exercises are helpful.
Osteoporosis, or loss of bone density, is a major cause of disability in post-menopausal women. It can lead to painful and even life-threatening fractures. Weight-bearing exercise such as walking, dancing, or lifting weights has long been viewed as a potential means of counteracting the age-related reduction in mineral density that occurs after the menopause. The hope was that exercise would protect bones and decrease the likelihood of fracture. However, despite the vast research in this area, the jury is still out on the value of exercise alone in thwarting the age-related reduction in bone strength.
We believe that physical activity offers some benefits and that the more intense the activity, the greater the gains. One recent study in women aged 50-70 found that bone density increased in both the hip and spine with twice-weekly strength training over a year.
>Falls and Balance
In general, you don't fracture your hip if you don't fall. While physical activity including both aerobic and resistance exercise may be of value in improving bone strength, it may make an even greater contribution by improving balance and strength, and promoting the ability to walk and climb stairs without assistance. The equation is a simple one: exercise equals better strength and balance, which equals fewer fractures.
>Nutrition in Old Age
Many older people eat poorly for a variety of reasons. A combination of long-term bad habits, poverty, dental problems and a lack of knowledge about the nutritional requirements of ageing all play a part. There are some specific age-related physical changes that might change an older person's nutritional requirements over time.
Over time, ageing men and women progressively lose muscle mass, which means that it takes fewer calories just to live and function normally. The so-called basal metabolic rate, that is the energy we use to perform basic body functions, drops by about 10pc by the age of 75 years.
Add to that the fact that older people are less physically active and the result is substantial decline in the calorific needs of older adults. This means that you either have to eat less to maintain your weight or exercise more so you can consume the calories you are used to having.