Monday, September 17, 2012

Change Your Fitness Regimes Or Fitness Can Fade Fast

Most of us accept the idea that there will be a decline in our fitness regimes as we get older, now research that's been widely reported has found precisely when that drop off speeds up - at age 45. The good news is that healthy habits can hold off the decline, which means that keeping your weight under control, exercising regularly, and not smoking are simple, natural behaviors to slow the inevitable.
Living a healthy lifestyle has proven, yet again, to be of value when it comes to living longer and healthier. But you have to work for it, not just once in a while but all the time, every day.
Of course as the population ages and the numbers carrying too much weight continue to rise, this latest work on cardiorespiratory fitness may well change the way experts think about aging and fitness. We also know that despite the well-publicized health risks, almost 43.4 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes.
The subjects in this most recent work included 3,429 women and 16,889 men from as young as 20 to as old as 96 who took part in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study and completed from 2 to 33 health exams from 1974 to 2006.
The lifestyle variables used were body mass index, and subjects' reports of their aerobic exercise and smoking behavior. Cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed using a maximal Balke treadmill exercise test.
The reductions in cardiorespiratory fitness didn't appear in a straight line, but rather after the age of 45 the slope got much steeper.
Increases in body mass index, less physical activity and smoking accelerated the downward trend. Poor cardiorespiratory fitness is tied to an increased risk of early death, just as improvement is related to lessening the risk of early death from all causes.
The take home message is this - if you want to stay fit and healthy after 45, you need to keep your BMI on the low side, be physically active on a regular basis and do not smoke.
"We've known that, as you age, your aerobic capacity goes down, and the exercise physiology literature indicates it's a linear relationship. We found that this is not the case," explains study author Andrew Jackson, who is professor emeritus of health and human performance at the University of Houston.
"It makes sense to me. When things aren't working right, we tend to go down at faster rates. This was true for both men and women [although the rate of decline was faster for men than for women]."
What this means is that taking care of yourself could make you younger than your years. Living a healthy lifestyle in your 30's and 40's, and sticking with it, gives you higher aerobic capacity as you age.
This is believed to be able to turn back the clock in terms of the age you might have expected health problems to come on - improved fitness holding off troublesome diseases into your 70's, 80's, perhaps even the 90's.
Exercise is the key according to Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease for Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City (also a spokesperson for the American Heart Association).
A study by both the American Heart Association and the Social Security Administration found the exercise keeps people younger biologically than they are chronologically. "Exercise is the most potent medication around, and the Social Security Administration agrees with me."

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