In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

October 10, 2019

Exercise Is Just What the Doctor Ordered to Fight Age-Related Changes

By In the Loop

The signs of aging are there, if you're paying attention. It's a little harder to climb the stairs, get out of bed, fit into the pants you bought last year. "As you age, your body stars to slow down, and tasks that used to be easy now require a bit more effort," Daniel Gaz of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program tells our friends at mayoclinic.org. That includes burning off that daily doughnut. While that may sound discouraging, Gaz says there is a way to fight the changes that come with more trips around the sun: "It's possible to slow down the aging process through regular exercise."

One powerhouse form of exercise for aging adults is strength training. "Strength training is particularly beneficial, in that we either use it or we lose it," Adam Maronde, an athletic trainer with Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine, tells Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine. "We're either going to use this muscle tissue or its going to atrophy as we age, and it's not going to allow us the strength to climb up stairs as we get older."

This isn't about lifting weights to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Instead, Maronde recommends focusing on exercises that mimic movements made in daily life — those that requires a squat, step, lunge or hip hinge. "As long as we are covering those movement patterns and strengthening them, it's going to help us stay active over the course of a lifetime," Maronde says. "If we don't have the strength from that muscle tissue to help support us in a lunge or a squat, we're not going to be able to climb up stairs, we're not going to be able to get up from a chair or pick up a laundry basket."

Gaz says it's also important to incorporate endurance activities — those that push you to get your heartbeat up, such as running, biking or swimming. These activities "are the best ways to improve your cardiovascular function and prevent your metabolism from slowing down," he says. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio most days of the week.

Finally, consider incorporating some high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, into your workouts. In a recent study, "Mayo Clinic researchers reported that while HIIT can help anyone, older adults reaped the biggest rewards," reports MSN.com. The study found that high-intensity interval training "reverses some age-related deterioration of muscle cells, improves energy production in muscles, and triggers new muscle growth."

Brad Prigge, a wellness exercise specialist with the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, tells the publication how it's done. "You are pushing yourself to a point where, for 30 seconds to a couple of minutes, you are giving everything you can give," he says. "Then you let yourself recover, catch your breath, and you do it again." Sounds like a plan to us. We've already got that recover part down.  

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Tags: Exercise, Health and Wellness, Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program

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