Individuals over the age of 65, or baby boomers, comprise nearly 13 percent of the American population. That may come as a surprise to most of you, but with the advancements in modern medicine and technology, we are now living longer than ever. In fact, it is estimated that one out of every five people in America will be over the age of 65 by 2025.
Although there is much to be celebrated during the retirement years, those over the age of 65 are facing serious health issues. Currently, 80 percent of individuals over the age of 65 are suffering from one or more chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension or osteoarthritis. We have done a remarkable job of increasing life expectancy, but a lousy job of increasing the quality of life for those over 65. There are dangers that come with aging, but there are also simple solutions to turn back the clock and give Father Time a run for his money!
Once we cross the threshold of 30 years old, we begin to decline physically. The decline starts off slowly and subtly in our 30s and then begins to accelerate in our 50s, 60s and 70s. Below are some of the alarming statistics on aging.
- We begin to lose bone mass at a rate of 3 percent to 11 percent per decade after the age of 30.
- We begin to lose about 1 percent of our muscle mass every year after the age of 30. As a result of the loss in bone mass and muscle mass, our balance begins to decline.
- Muscle strength declines by approximately 15 percent per decade in a person’s 60s and 70s and by about 30 percent thereafter.
- Changes in muscles, joints and bones affect our posture and lead to weakness and slowed movement. This muscle weakness, along with muscle stiffness, is the most common reason for falls.
- One-third of adults over 65 fall every year.
- Falls are the most common cause of hospitalization, injury and death in adults 65 years old and older.
- 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls.
- 50 percent to 75 percent of nursing home residents fall yearly.
- Fall-related injuries add up to $30 billion in annual health-care costs.
Reading through these statistics can become depressing, causing those who are in the 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s to begin to give up hope. In fact, there is data that indicates that this physical decline takes a huge toll on our psyche. Late-life events such as chronic and debilitating disorders, loss of friends and loved ones, and the inability to take part in once-cherished activities can take a heavy toll on an aging person’s emotional well-being. We almost begin to sense a loss of control over our lives as our eyesight, hearing, balance and physical strength begin to wane. Do not give up and give in to this frame of thought, as it is the primary reason for these statistics. The solution is frequent and vigorous exercise!
Let’s take a look at the statistics that promote active lifestyles no matter your age.
- Studies on progressive resistance training over several weeks have shown that even after the age of 50, individuals can increase their strength and lean muscle tissue.
- After 14 weeks of resistance training, an adult who does as few as two exercise sessions per week can add 3.8 pounds of lean body mass, drop 2.9 pounds of body fat, and increase overall strength by 25 percent to 30 percent.
- In the same 14-week study, participants experienced improvement in joint flexibility, functional ability and overall mobility. They also reduced falls by more than 50 percent.
- Physical impact and weight-bearing exercise also stimulate bone formation. A recent study showed that women who did high-intensity weight training two days per week for a year were able to not only stop the loss of bone mass, but were able to add 1 percent to their overall bone density.
- One study of people in their 80s and 90s who lived in nursing homes and exercised with weight machines three times per week for just eight weeks showed improvement in strength, balance and walking speed.
There are numerous other studies that support these statistics, and I could list page after page to demonstrate the benefits of exercise for older adults. The fact remains that it is never too late to begin a regimented training program. You can turn back the clock on Father Time, but you must be willing to put in the work on a daily basis. There are no shortcuts or easy paths, but if you are willing to train hard and consistently, you can add years to your life and make those quality years. If you don’t know where to start or how to get started, shoot me an email or call us at Wilmington Performance Lab. Our team would love to help you build a plan and to take control over the aging process.
Chris McAbee is the founder and co-owner of Wilmington Performance Lab, a state-of-the-art personal training facility that offers a full range of services including nutritional counseling and corporate wellness. Wilmington Performance Lab was founded on the belief that personal training is not only about making physical improvements, but also building long lasting, quality relationships with partners you can trust. For more information, visit http://wilmingtonperformancelab.com or call 910-399-5441.