Older People Are Largely Not Active Enough for Good Health

If regular exercise were a drug, it would be prescribed for everyone - and particularly older people, given that the reductions in risk of mortality and many age-related conditions are sizable in comparison to what can be achieved via medical technology at the present time. Frailty and sarcopenia in particular are amenable to treatment via structured exercise programs: a perhaps surprisingly large degree of the loss of muscle mass and strength is a matter of disuse in later life, rather than the presently unavoidable damage of aging. Yet we live in a world in which near everyone in wealthier regions of the world exercises too little, and as a consequence suffers the declines of age more rapidly.

Physical function (i.e., aerobic capacity, gait speed, and muscle strength) has been proposed as a biomarker of healthy ageing, as it is predictive of adverse health events, disability, and mortality. The role of physical exercise as a therapeutic strategy for prevention of both disease and the associated decline in functional capacity has been emphasised repeatedly. Supervised exercise interventions in hospitalised older people (aged ≥75 years) have been proved to be safe and effective in preventing or attenuating functional and cognitive decline.

Unfortunately, few studies have explored the potential role of tailored physical activity guidelines to maximise exercise-related effect on function. Also, exercise has not been fully integrated into primary or geriatric medical practice and is almost absent from the core training of most medical doctors and other health-care providers. Physical trainers should be included in health-care systems to help manage physical exercise programmes for older patients.

Taking into consideration current evidence about the benefits of exercise for frail older adults, it is unethical not to prescribe physical exercise for such individuals. To promote healthy and dignified ageing, it is therefore essential to help health-care systems to more efficiently implement evidence-based exercise programmes for frail older adults in all community and care settings.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2666-7568(21)00079-9


Or is it: Older people are largely not healthy enough for good activity?

Posted by: Jones at July 19th, 2021 7:18 AM

@Jones while there is a good deal of a chicken or egg dynamic going on, There are just too many examples of sedentary older people greatly enhancing their health and fitness levels via regular exercise that contradict your hypothesis.

Posted by: JohnD at July 19th, 2021 12:04 PM

It probably depends on where you live a lot.
But why is it that there're just too many examples of sedentary older people?
Don't they know better? Lazy? Have they been that way their whole life?

Testosterone makes effort feel good! The diminished hormone levels in older people is an unhealthy state. It takes a lot of the incentive to do physical stuff away, causes depression.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGKL62fGj6U Dr. Andrew Huberman, neuroscientist at Stanford

You can argue that many older people's muscle and bones are still healthy enough to do meaningful health promoting activities, but as long as their brain is signaling 'nah, not worth it', it won't happen as often as it should.

Posted by: Jones at July 20th, 2021 2:12 AM

I wish I could convince colleagues and friends to just try being active for a month. As anyone who's a long term gym rat knows, there is a large annual cohort of new members the first week of January and by the 3rd week, half are gone - disappointed by the short term gains and demoralized by the pain. I've seen data for all age groups, but I haven't seen data striated by age group. I think the 40+ group drop out in greater numbers than the young.

We are at a critical point: Inflation will cause many to eat down, saving pennies at the cost of hundreds of dollars in increased forced medical bills. I fear lifespans and healthspans will step down in the next couple years for the vast majority of the populations. Medicaid and Medicare costs will explode exacerbating Gov spending in a vicious cycle contributing to hyperinflation.

Posted by: Thomas Mark Schaefer at July 20th, 2021 1:06 PM

Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. New comments can be edited for a few minutes following submission. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.