The World Health Organization just updated their recommendations related to exercise.
“In adults, physical activity confers benefits for the following health outcomes: improved all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, incident hypertension, incident sitespecific cancers, incident type-2 diabetes, mental health (reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression); cognitive health, and sleep; measures of adiposity may also improve.” Source
For those 65+, regular physical activity is recommended. “As part of their weekly physical activity, older adults should do varied multicomponent physical activity that emphasizes functional balance and strength training at moderate or greater intensity, on 3 or more days a week to enhance functional capacity and to prevent falls.”
The guidelines stress that some activity is better than none – start small with something that you’re comfortable with and build on that…over time you can increase the frequency, intensity and duration of your workouts.
***This isn’t medical advice, always check with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program and consider working with a trainer to make sure you’re using proper form***
Do you journal? This is one that I resisted for a long time. Once I started seeing benefits for myself, I started implementing it with some of my patients to rave reviews. If you’re a skeptic like I was, worry that the effort isn’t worth the time, or just need a little nudge to get started, here are some of the myriad benefits:
I’m at the top of my game – I don’t need to worry about cognitive decline yet. And what does my leg strength have to do with my thinking?? Whether you’re a surgeon, attorney, CEO, or golf-game-perfecting retiree, we all want to perform at our best.
The time to reduce your risk of cognitive decline is before that decline starts. Age related factors like hormonal changes in both men and women – as well as the aging process itself -can contribute to ever-so-subtle cognitive changes (decreased processing speed /increased reaction time, decreased focused and sustained attention, mild memory lapses (misplaced items, “why did I walk into this room”). And we’re not just talking about getting dementia or Alzheimer’s. How about up- leveling performance at work and improving your golf or tennis game? Studies show “the age at which cognitive decline begins is relevant to the optimum time to implement interventions designed to prevent or reverse age-related declines. “ “What does appear clear is that several different types of results converge on the conclusion that age-related cognitive decline begins relatively early in adulthood, and certainly before age 60 in healthy educated adults.” Source
YIKES – WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT? A lot! The Goal Fit Method membership offers tons of research-backed content, and easily implemented lifestyle strategies aimed at maintaining physical and cognitive vitality as we grow older. Growing older is a gift, but I’m not settling for the decline in function I see so many suffer. And you don’t have to either. Here’s an example – LEG STRENGTH!
Wait, I thought we were talking about cognitive decline??
“Studies support that interventions targeted to improve leg power in the long term may help reach a universal goal of healthy cognitive ageing”- noting “a striking protective relationship was found between muscle fitness (leg power) and both 10-year cognitive change and subsequent total grey matter.” Source
“Groundbreaking research shows that neurological health depends as much on signals sent by the body’s large, leg muscles to the brain as it does on directives from the brain to the muscles. Using the legs, particularly in weight-bearing exercise, sends signals to the brain that are vital for the production of healthy neural cells, essential for the brain and nervous system. Cutting back on exercise makes it difficult for the body to produce new nerve cells — some of the very building blocks that allow us to handle stress and adapt to challenge in our lives.” Source
My favorite leg-strength exercises you can do at home include: squats, all the lunges, deadlifts, leg lifts, walking and hiking.
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Recent research has shown the benefits of strength training to include reduced risk of stroke, heart attack and diabetes. Specific to older adults, resistance training can reduce sarcopenia (age related muscle loss) and fall risk as well as help to maintain bone mass.
This article cites research concluding that “resistance exercise promoted better anti-inflammatory balance and physical performance simultaneously with an increase in cognitive profile in older women with cognitive impairment”.
Aim for 3-4 strength training sessions per week and choose exercises and weights that provide a challenge. If you’re just starting out, check with your doctor & consider body weight exercises, light dumbbells or resistance exercises or even household items.
A session or two with a trainer is a great idea to ensure you’re choosing the right weights & that your form is on point.