Want to live a long, full life like this 105 year old legend? Read on…..
I recently read this fantastic article from the British Journal of Sports Medicine on the role of sport and exercise as ‘medicine’ for older adults. The article cites the example of French track cyclist Robert Marchand who recently set a new world record at the age of 105! In fact researchers found that Marchand was more aerobically fit than most 50 year olds, despite being twice their age which is quite a different trend from what we see in Western society.
This inspired me to think about all of the ‘Marchands’ that we have the joy of working with at Life PT – clients in their 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s who refuse to conform with societal norms of aging where exercise is a gentle walk around the block at best. I’ve seen these clients do some amazing things in the gym from a challenging interval set on a rower through to lifting weights that would put the average western 20 year old to shame. The common thing that I’ve noticed from all of these inspiring clients is their ‘can do’ attitude and willingness to give things a go. As a result their lifestyle is very different to the majority of their peers as they are incredibly independent and active because of their health.
And the research supports it. Exercise to target strength (including minimising muscle loss from aging), balance, mobility and aerobic fitness have benefits far beyond the obvious. These benefits reach into areas such as falls prevention, minimising brain function decline, positive self esteem and confidence to name a few.
So why don’t the majority of our older adults exercise regularly?
My thought is that it is a mixture of things like –
- Societal norms – ‘Exercise is for young people’
- Fear of getting injured
- Unsure on how to get started – a lot of conventional fitness facilities seem intimidating and unsuitable
- ‘I’ve got a bad back’ – uncertainty on how their current ‘niggles’ will go with introducing exercise
Let’s all make it our mission to encourage the older adults in our life to exercise to give them the quality of life they deserve!