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Fitness for Men Over 50

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Fitness for Men Over 50

Turning 50 is a significant milestone for most people and, while fitness levels vary from person to person, there are aspects of fitness and our general physical condition that become increasingly obvious and important for everyone as they age.

Some of the physical changes that occur naturally in all people as they age include:

  • Lowered bone density. As we age the body becomes less able to absorb nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D, both of which are important to how our body reproduces bone and keeps it strong.As our metabolism slows our diet also tends to change. We need fewer calories and the intake of important nutrients tends to decline.
  • Reduced muscle mass. Studies have shown that there is a decline in our cells mitochondrial function with age which results in the increasing loss of muscle mass in the over 50's. Muscle fibres reduce in number and size and the muscle tissue is actually replaced over time with a tough, fibrous tissue. Changes to our dietary habits can also impact muscle mass.
  • Altered sleeping habits. As we age we secrete less of two hormones that largely control how we sleep: melatonin and growth hormone. Melatonin is important because changes in the amount of this hormone control the cycles of our sleep. With less melatonin, many older adults feel sleepy earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning. We might also have more trouble falling asleep. Growth hormone is what makes children sleep so deeply. As we age, our body secretes less of this hormone and we therefore tend to sleep lighter and are prone to waking during the night.

How does the fitness level of men over 50 impact these physical changes? There is overwhelming research that shows that higher fitness levels have a positive impact on all the conditions mentioned above. Why is this so?

  • One of the key reasons is that weight gain is linked in a negative way with these conditions. For example, as men age there is a normal decline in testosterone production, which is believed to contribute to a host of health conditions including diabetes and osteoporosis. It has been shown that as the Body Mass Index (BMI) increases the production of testosterone drops. This becomes quite dramatic if the BMI moves into the obese category. In fact, moving from being non-obese to being obese has been linked to a reduction in testosterone equivalent to 10 years of aging. Physically active and fit men will tend to have less of a weight problem than those that are not physically active.
  • Physically active and fit men will also have higher bone density and muscle mass than those that are not active. Regular activity and exercise will do this by simple muscle conditioning, and weight bearing exercise such as walking, running or weight training is shown to improve bone mass.
  • Physical activity can tire the body so that sleeping problems are reduced. In addition, exercise often occurs outdoors and exposure to at least two hours of sunlight each day has been shown to improve sleeping patterns (and increase vitamin D intake which helps with bone density).

What sort of exercises should men over 50 consider? Firstly, if you are out of shape and considering starting an exercise regime, go to your doctor and have a physical examination first and make sure your life insurance, income protection and death and disability insurances are all in order!

Men over 50 can look at doing just about any physical activity. Age should not be a barrier to the type of exercise you do. How hard you go at it is another matter and men over 50 will not be able to go as fast as they did when they were younger. They will also be more susceptible to soft tissue injuries (due to weakening muscles for example) so preparation and not pushing the limits will be important for most men.

So, walk, run, swim, do weights, play tennis, ride, garden, paint the house Ė anything that gets you out and about. Try to raise your heart rate for 30 minutes, 4 times a week.

Note: This information is provided as a guide only. Consult your doctor before starting any new exercise programs.

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Fitness for Men Over 50

This information presented is intended to be used for educational purposes only. The statements made have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (U.S.). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any condition or disease. Please consult with your own physician or health care practitioner regarding any suggestions and recommendations made.