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Too Old for Exercise?

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Too Old for Exercise?

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Increasing physical frailty as you age is commonly accepted as “a fact of life.” Until recently, most studies showed that after the age of 40, people typically lose eight percent or more of their muscle mass with each passing decade. But newer research suggests that this is not a foregone conclusion.

One recent study of 40 competitive runners, cyclists, and swimmers, ranging in age from 40 to 81, found no evidence of deterioration — the athletes in their 70s and 80s had almost as much thigh muscle mass as the athletes in their 40s.

Quoted in the New York Times, Dr. Vonda Wright, who oversaw the study, said:“We think these are very encouraging results

They suggest strongly that people don’t have to lose muscle mass and function as they grow older.

The changes that we’ve assumed were due to aging and therefore were unstoppable seem actually to be caused by inactivity.

And that can be changed.”

Other recent studies have had similar results. For example, in an animal study from last year, elderly sedentary rats put on a running program developed new satellite cells after 13 weeks. These cells are specialized stem cells known to repair and build muscle tissue.

Lifelong Activity is Best, But It’s Never Too Late to Start

Over the past several years, researchers have discovered that it is indeed possible to restore the ability of old human muscle to repair and rebuild itself. However, the need to keep aging muscles in shape has also been demonstrated, as long periods of atrophy are more challenging to overcome. These findings fall into the category of common sense, along the lines of “use it or lose it.” And as you age, physical exercise becomes an ever more important aspect of optimal health and longevity.

The good news is that it’s really never too late to start an exercise program, even if you’ve been inactive for a long time. Just keep in mind that older muscles do not respond as well to sudden bouts of exercise, so to take precautions and start off slow, to avoid injury.

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Dr. Mercola

Dr. Mercola has been passionate about health and technology for most of his life. As a doctor of osteopathic medicine, he treated many thousands of patients for over 20 years. In the mid 90s he integrated his passion for natural health with modern technology via the internet and developed a website, to spread the word about natural ways to achieve optimal health.


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11:09PM PST on Feb 10, 2014

Thanks for the info.

8:26AM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

Glad to know it's never to late to improve.

2:39AM PDT on Mar 22, 2012

I keep active and am just about to join a recreational facility to keep fitter.
Thanks for the article

10:16PM PDT on Mar 15, 2012

I wish I could convince my Mother this would help her.

6:17AM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

Starting again.

1:15AM PST on Mar 3, 2012


10:59AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

I found expercise helps your outlook on life. Thanks for the post.

6:03AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

For some reason I thought that exercising would cause me to lose weight, which I don't need 'cause I burn calories like crazy, even if I'm sedentary. But muscles are heavier than fat? That's good news. So now the routines begin. Yoga, Calisthenics, Weights & Martial Arts. I know them. I can do them. I *will* do them. Great inspiration! Thank you!

12:56AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

As my father said....'if you don't use it, you lose it' exercise!

10:30AM PST on Mar 1, 2012

thank you for sharing.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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