Fitness for Men Over 50
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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
- 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
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.