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Greetings

Summer is here and it's a time when many people think about getting more active and enjoying the outdoors.

Being active is not only fun - it is a key part of healthy aging.  Our lead article in this newsletter is focussed on "Healthy aging through staying active."

Also, we have recently added over 40 new articles to our patient resource library including the following (click on the links to view them) :

New Content Sections:

New Patient Guides: 

Featured Article:

Staying Active is the Key to Healthy Aging

Our bodies change dramatically as we age. We lose muscle tone and tend to gain more weight. Many people also experience bone loss, fragility and deteriorating cardiovascular health and stamina as they get older, especially if they don't exercise. In fact, studies have shown that without regular physical activity, you can lose 30-40% of your muscle mass by age 70 [1,2]. Now that's a scary thought.

The good news, though, is that this frightening picture of aging doesn't have to come to pass. There are ways to slow and even reverse the negative physical effects of aging so you can stay strong, fit and healthy throughout your golden years. With the guidance of a trained Physical Therapist, you can learn what will work best for you and your body so you can keep yourself healthy for years to come.

Combating Common Ailments Caused by Aging

Lower Back Pain – Strength training can readily decrease back problems or alleviate lower back pain altogether. Doing exercises like weight training, exercise with resistance bands and body weight exercises like push-ups and squats regularly can also help lubricate the joints and strengthen muscles throughout the body, which is why the American College of Sports Medicine recommends strength training twice weekly to maintain health [3]. Since the back is part of our body’s core, strengthening all of the back muscles will help align everything correctly. Stretching and maintaining flexibility can also help people suffering from back pain. Regular stretching exercises coupled with the strength training of muscles have been shown in studies to increase flexibility and decrease pain [4,5].

Osteoporosis and Fractures – As you enter your 40s and 50s more of your bone is broken down by your body than is replaced. Over time, this bone loss can reach the point where the bones in your hips, back and wrist break easily, a condition known as osteoporosis [6]. However, severe bone loss isn't inevitable. With the correct exercise regimen advised by your Physical Therapist, you can make your bones stronger and possibly even reduce your risk for a fracture [7]. Resistance exercise using light weights or exercise machines will increase bone density throughout the body, enhance muscle mass and strength and preserve bone calcium. Weight-bearing exercises like walking or climbing stairs are also great ways to strengthen your bones.

Cardiovascular Decline – Increasing age is also linked to diminishing aerobic capacity. While a healthy 25-year-old heart can pump 2.5 quarts of oxygen a minute, a 65-year-old heart can’t pump more than 1.5 quarts, and an 80-year-old heart can only reach about a quart, even if it’s completely healthy. This can cause fatigue and breathlessness even during normal daily activities [8]. The best way to improve your cardiovascular function is with endurance exercise. Activities like walking and aquatherapy will help keep your heart muscle strong and your arteries flexible, boosting your heart's ability to deliver oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. Your Physical Therapist will be able to recommend activities that will be safe and effective for you.

Injuries – It seems obvious that the less you use your muscles the weaker and more fragile your body will become, yet many people become less active as they age. Unfortunately, inactivity leading to loss of muscle mass in the body is one of the biggest cases of injuries in aging people [9,10]. A Physical Therapist will be able to devise a personalized exercise plan that can help you establish better balance and agility, increase your flexibility, create stronger muscles and increase bone density, all of which will help you move more easily, prevent falls and aid in preventing injuries [11]. If you are already recovering from an injury, an exercise schedule advised by your Physical Therapist can help you heal faster and strengthen your body so you can avoid future injuries.

Starting a program that is as simple as 30 minutes of walking almost every day will produce major benefits in your health as you age. But adding things like strength, balance and flexibility training will help even more. Talking to a Physical Therapist is one of the easiest ways to create a training regimen that is tailored to your body, your lifestyle and your health-related goals. By working together, you can establish a routine that will make aging less stressful and much more enjoyable.

References

   1. Grimby G, Saltin B. The aging muscle. Clin Physiol. 1983;3:209-218.
   2. Israel S. Age-related changes in strength and special groups. In: Strength and Power in Sport. PV Komi, ed. Boston, MA: Blackwell Scientific, 1991.
   3. Haggman T, Eriksson E, Jansson E. Muscle fiber type changes in human
   4. skeletal muscle after injuries and immobilization. Orthopedics 1986;9:181-185.
   5. Kent-Braun JA. Specific strength and voluntary muscle activation in young and
   6. elderly women and men. J Appl Physiol. 1999;87(1):22-29.
   7. Mazzeo RS, Cavanagh P, Evans WJ, et al. Exercise and physical activity for older adults. Position stand for the American College of Sports Medicine. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009;30(6):992-1008.
   8. McComas AJ. Skeletal muscle: Form and function. 2nd Edition. Champaign, IL:
   9. Human Kinetics, 2005.
  10. Nelson ME, et al. Effects of high-intensity strength training on multiple risk factors for osteoporotic fractures. JAMA. 1994;272:1909-14.
  11. Adams K, O’Shea P, O’Shea KL. Aging: Its effects on strength, power, flexibility, and bone density. Nat Strength and Cond Assoc. 1999;21(2):65-77.

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