Everyone Suffers the Downward Spiral of Exercise Capacity

Other than calorie restriction, regular exercise is the most potent presently available method available to maintain health and extend life expectancy - which is actually more of a criticism of our lack of advanced biotechnology than praise for the merits of exercise. Exercise is beneficial even for the elderly, however, and one part of the downward spiral that comes with age is that loss of strength and increasing frailty constrain the ability to exercise sufficiently vigorously to obtain its benefits. This is true even for the longest-lived humans: "Ageing is a continuum of biological processes characterized by progressive adaptations which can be influenced by both genetic and physiological factors. In terms of human maturation, physically and cognitively functional centenarians certainly represent an impressive example of successful healthy ageing. However, even in these unique individuals, with the passage of time, declining lung function and sarcopenia lead to a progressive fall in maximal strength, maximal oxygen uptake, and therefore reduced exercise capacity. The subsequent mobility limitation can initiate a viscous downward spiral of reduced physical function and health. Emerging literature has shed some light on this multi-factorial decline in function associated with aging and the positive role that exercise and physical capacity can play in the elderly. Recognizing the multiple factors that influence ageing, the aim of this review is to highlight the recently elucidated limitations to physical function of the extremely old and therefore evaluate the role of exercise capacity in the health and longevity of centenarians."

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22883374

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