PPB OA Research Paper December 17, 1997
The Benefits of Exercise After Retirement
For most people when you mention the words "old age" the first picture that comes to mind is grandparents living in a bungalow or a retirement home spending all their time in a rocking chair ether knitting or playing cards all day. This however dose not have to be true. Nowadays with our advances in modern medicine people are living longer than ever before and they don't know how to take care of their bodies after they retire. Because of such trends in the elderly population there is a tendency for them to allow their bodies to decay faster than is necessary, which is mainly due to their inactivity. That is why it is important that we stay fit our entire lives, so that life after work isn't a burden but a time of relaxation and enjoyment. The benefits of maintaining activity in later years are more energy and strength to carry out daily tasks as well as a greater resilience towards degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis and arthritis, which will give you a greater sense of well being. This will allow you to continue enjoying life while at the same time making life more enjoyable.
One of the many great things that exercise can do for an individual that is ether retired or past the age of fifty is that it can give them more energy by increasing the efficiency of the heart and lungs. It is these organs that are responsible for the intake and circulation of oxygen. To exercise the heart and lungs aerobic activity is necessary for a time about thirty minutes to have any significant benefit to their health. By maintaining prolonged activities we exercises the heart by increasing the rate at which it must pump to supply a sufficient amount of oxygen to the body, this sort of excesses will make the heart muscle larger and stronger and ultimately make it more efficient. When someone dose such exercises they also develop the amount of capillaries in the muscles of the body, making the O2 and CO2 exchange more efficient. Even though the amount of oxygen we are able to intake will decrease as we age we can help slow the speed at which it will decrease, by exercising our lungs through aerobic activities. Through prolonged exercise we can maintain the elasticity of our lung tissue as well as the effectiveness of our alveoli. Of course by avoiding health risks such as smoking and drinking elderly people will be able to maintain the strength of their heart as well as the lungs capability will find that they have more energy, simply because they have more oxygen. The benefits of maintaining the regular exercise of the heart and lungs are not limited to increased vigor but also carry over into substantial health benefits. The exercise of these systems will reduce the chances of developing certain health problems that are often related to old age, such as high blood pressure and hardening of artery walls. Having a healthier heart the amount of exercise needed to raise your heart rate is higher which helps keep blood pressure low and reduces the chances of angina and heart attacks. The hardening of arteries walls is less likely in healthy people because of the low density lipoproteins (LDL) which carries cholesterol and can cause arteriosclerosis (the hardening of the artery walls) are lower. By having elasticity in artery walls an individual chances of having a stroke are greatly reduced because the walls of the artery have not been made brittle by deposits of cholesterol left by LDL. By starting to exercise regularly after retirement seniors can maintain the integrity of the heart and lungs, which will allow them to pursue further interests in life and not be slowed down by fatigue.
The great thing about exercise in general is that one exercise such as running not only works the heart and lungs it also strengthens the muscles and bones of the leg. Some people might not think that a sixty-five is in need of building strength in the legs and arms but it is necessary to prevent the decay of these muscles. While it is not always recommended that seniors lift heavy weights it is important that they do lift something, perhaps a book would suffice as long as the muscles are being forced to maintain some sort of tone. From the age of 20-40 the maximum force a large muscle can produce remains relatively constant, but after the age of 40 the potential for strength starts to decline and this decline only increases the older we get after that. This decline may not be noticed for awhile because there is no significant change in body weight due to the replacing of muscle by fatty tissue. Likewise bones also start to deteriorate as early as the age of thirty. Even though they at first the effect is hardly noticeable over decades of accumulated decay bones may break from the slightest bump. By the time that they break it can be hard to recover because the exercise needed to strengthen the bones may be to demanding of the already weak bones. Older women are especially at risk because the process of osteoporosis can be accelerated by menopause, during which time the female losses some of the minerals in her body and the level of those minerals are never returned to normal. From then on women can loose as much as two per cent of her bodies' calcium deposits per year. Thankfully all this deterioration can be ether slowed, stopped or even reversed. Chances are that if you are already jogging to strengthen your heart and lungs that you are also strengthening leg bones and maintaining the tone of your leg muscles as well. Some benefits of working specifically on your skeletal muscles is that the electrical signals from the brain to the muscles will improve with exercise, which will in turn make your reaction time better which in old age is important because it will help you to avoid injure. In fact "Researchers have found that inactive older men react more slowly than younger men, either active or inactive, but active older men react just as quickly and move faster than inactive young men.". One more benefit to having stronger muscles is that you are able to do more for the amount of energy that you expend, so not only will you go further but you will also get there faster. As for the deterioration of the bodies bones researchers have found that with regular exercise one can increase the strength of the bones to the point where thy can be stronger than before you started to exercise. So there is no excuse for brittle bones except for ones own laziness and inactivity. However it is important to realize that only the bones that are exercised will get stronger and that is why one must remember to work on the upper body as well as the lower body. As far as we can tell the best way to slow the deterioration of bone and muscle in the body is simply through regular exercise throughout life but especially after retirement to prevent falling into a routine of inactivity.
It is also important that we maintain the health of the amphiarthrodial and diarthrodial of our bodies, doing so will save us much grief down the road when we reach old age. It has been found that most people age sixty-five can not reach with in 7 to 10 cm of the ground without bending their knees. That is why it is important to attempt to keep your full range of motion for as long as possible, by regular use and stretching of all major joints. In doing so the joints will retain their stability by keeping the joint tissue strong and giving you more control of joints and balance. Unfortunately a certain amount of deterioration of the connective tissue in most joint is inevitable due to the fraying of ligaments and stiffening of tendons. With the proper exercising of the joints the effects of such processes can be kept to a minimal and may not even be noticed. One specific joint that is harder but important to exercise is the rib to sternum joint. This amphiarthrodial, held together by the costal cartilage, can become totally ridged with age, which puts it at risk of being easily damaged. Preventing this is simple just make an effort to use the joint say, buy doing a few light bench presses or a few push-ups and the cartilage will maintain its elasticity. Through regular exercise during our lives we are continuously strengthening our joints which will reduce the risk of injury and if an injury should occur in a joint it is more likely to recover faster than a joint that hasn't been exercised very much and is weaker. Increased flexibility is also important. It will give you more versatility in how you can perform daily tasks, it will allow to bend down to pick thing up as well as reach for the top shelf. With regular use it is even possible to prevent, stiffness in joints and even arthritis. Arthritis is a major cause of disability in elderly people. It has been discovered that "Almost 80% of the over-60 population show some evidence of osteoarthritis " and the most commonly affected joints are the knee and vertebrae column. However only about 25%of the people affected notice stiffness in their daily activities. Again with proper exercise "the extent of stiffness can be minimized if the joints are properly exercised". It all returns to the "use it or loose it" rule, with neglect comes deterioration if the joint is neglected long enough. Therefor it is surely worth while to get into the habit of including stretching and joint strengthening exercises into your fitness program for life if being flexible and limber are at all important to you now or you might think it important in the future.
As is the way for most things, the more we work on the physical development of our selves the longer we will last and the better we will perform during that time. This is true for all the components discussed here, with stronger heart, lungs, muscles, bones, or joints we will be able to sustain ourselves longer and achieve more during our retirement years if we continue to maintain our physical fitness. I think it is put in best terms when we say it is to "put years into our lives and put life into your years".