Often we assume our physical abilities and resulting physical decline is merely associated to our respective age. We often feel defeated before we even start exercising, and we wonder if it’s even worth our time. We know that physical performance can decline in middle age, but is all about biological age or a chosen sedentary lifestyle that steals our ability to perform physically?
What Age Do We Start To Become “Old”
According to a group of German physicians who studied the times of over 900, 000 marathon and 1/2 marathon runners, aging did not predict the decline of performance in middle age, only the negative consequences of a sedentary lifestyle was a predictor. In fact, “no significant age-related decline in performance appears before the age of 55”.
In the research study, “Physical Performance in Middle Age and Old Age”, the runners, whose times were assessed, ranged in age from 20-79 years old. They then a analyzed a health questionnaire for 13,171 runners regarding their sports, lifestyle and overall health.
Interestingly enough they discovered that even relative “newcomers” to running, those who only entered the sport in the last 5 years, were able to excel at high levels of performance through regular training, even if they were a non-athlete.
It was also noted that, only a moderate decline is seen after the age of 55, “in fact 25% of the 65-69 year olds were faster than 50% of the 20-54 year olds.” The survey also revealed that 25% of the 50-69 year olds had only started running in the last 5 years.
I think that’s pretty impressive, that these runners were able to excel due to their training regime and that their age had minimal effect on their ability.
How Does Lifestyle Affect Longevity Of Health
We know then that our lifestyle choices are the real link to our declining physical performance. Poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of exercise, and obesity are the direct connection to physical decline and there is no getting around it.
Today in the US we have over 51 million people that are 65 years of age and older. It is the first time in the history of our country that we will have this many people in this age bracket. It is not ok to assume that just because they are advancing in their biological age, that they can’t be physically fit.
Physical fitness starts with making good choices everyday for an active life. Walking is one of the easiest ways to start. Even if it’s starting at 3-5 mins and progressing slowly each day with a few more minutes, till you reach 60 minutes a day. One study in the UK revealed that walking decreased blood pressure, resting heart rate, body mass index, increased VO2max, decreased cholesterol, decreased depression and improved overall physical performance.
How Do I Start Making Healthy Choices Now
Please start now. See your MD and your fitness performance physical therapist. In my profession of physical therapy this is what we do everyday. We assess your current physical function and decide how to improve your physical health through specific fitness training for you. Your individualized fitness prescription is what you need.
Evidence states that sedentary lifestyles lead to early decline, and that activity leads to longevity and improved physical performance. Please never give up on your physical health, your body is counting on you. You can do it, we can help!
Sheree DiBiase, PT is the owner of a Lake City Physical Therapy and she and her incredible staff want you to have an active lifestyle. Call us so we can help get you moving, CDA office (208)667-1988, Hayden (208)762-2100 and Spokane Valley (509)891-2623.