Study: Never Too Late to Start Exercising — New research suggests people who start exercising later in life — and yes as late as your 50s and 60s — reduce their mortality risk just as much as people who’ve been exercising their whole lives as compared to folks who are completely sedentary.
And no better place than Bali, second home to a growing community of international retirees who take advantage of the many outdoor activities in favorable weather year round.
The study from the University of Birmingham shows older people who have never taken part in sustained exercise programs have the same ability to build muscle mass as highly trained master athletes of a similar age.
Published in Frontiers in Physiology, researchers in the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport and Exercise Science compared muscle-building ability in two groups of older men. The first group were classed as “master athletes” — people in their 70s and 80s who are lifelong exercisers and still competing at top levels in their sport. In the second were healthy individuals of a similar age, who had never participated in structured exercise programs.
Each participant was given an isotope tracer, in the form of a drink of “heavy” water, and then took part in a single bout of exercise, involving weight training on an exercise machine. The researchers took muscle biopsies from participants in the 48 hour periods just before and just after the exercise, and examined these to look for signs of how the muscles were responding to the exercise. The isotope tracer showed how proteins were developing within the muscle.
The researchers had expected that the master athletes would have an increased ability to build muscle due to their superior levels of fitness over a prolonged period of time. In fact, the results showed that both groups had an equal capacity to build muscle in response to exercise.
Health-e Exercise Tips for Older Adults
- Physical activity need not be strenuous to achieve health benefits.
- Older adults can obtain significant health benefits with a moderate amount of physical activity, preferably daily. A moderate amount of activity can be obtained in longer sessions of moderately intense activities (such as beach walking) or in shorter sessions of more vigorous activities (such as fast walking).
- Additional health benefits can be gained through greater amounts of physical activity, either by increasing the duration, intensity, or frequency. Because risk of injury increases at high levels of physical activity, care should be taken not to engage in excessive amounts of activity.
- Previously sedentary older adults who begin physical activity programs should start with short intervals of moderate physical activity (5-10 minutes) and gradually build up to the desired amount.
- Older adults should consult with a BIMC physician before beginning a new physical activity program.
- In addition to cardiorespiratory endurance (aerobic) activity, older adults can benefit from muscle-strengthening activities. Stronger muscles help reduce the risk of falling and improve the ability to perform the routine tasks of daily life.
Study: Never Too Late to Start Exercising — Health-e reporting with sources: Science Daily; Frontiers in Physiology; CDC