Monday, July 11, 2016

Aging May Blunt Some of Exercise’s Benefits

Researchers compared men aged 18 to 30 with men 55 and older who used exercise bikes for 30 minutes. During that time, blood samples were collected six different times, to assess cell function and antioxidant response.

Antioxidants are believed to protect healthy cells from damage caused by unstable molecules called “free radicals,” according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

“Through this study, we were able to determine that an individual’s antioxidant response to exercise becomes suppressed with age,” researcher Tinna Taustadottir, an associate professor of biology at Northern Arizona University, said in a university release.

“Exercise is effective and critical for people of all ages, but this study shows that older adults do not achieve the same beneficial cellular responses as younger adults from a single bout of moderate exercise,” she said.

“By better understanding the molecular signals promoting beneficial effects of exercise, definitive recommendations could be made for improving the body’s reaction to oxidative stress, which could lower the risk for many chronic diseases,” the researchers said.

Oxidative stress involves the overproduction of oxygen byproducts that are toxic to cells.

Still, health experts advise seniors to make exercise a key part of their lives. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, studies have shown that exercise “provides many health benefits and that older adults can gain a lot by staying physically active”.

“Even moderate exercise and physical activity can improve the health of people who are frail or who have diseases that accompany aging,” according to the NIH.

The study was published in the July issue of the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

My Take:
It’s a fairly obvious conclusion but measuring oxidative stress as a function of age and exercise is a great research topic. I would like to see a study that takes seniors and measures oxidative stress as related to the parameters of metabolic syndrome. I suspect hypothyroidism, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and central obesity will be better markers than age alone.

We know that our metabolism slows as we age. I have to work harder, smarter, and incorporate more rest just to try not to decline as fast as my body might allow. Still, the benefits are obvious. Reducing the intensity, or rather the length of intense exercise really has been a key element as I age. Any aerobic exercise with intervals of increased intensity seems to provide maximum benefit. As we age, the key is to limit the intervals to less than 10 minutes and actively recover, continuing the exercise.

The Galloway Method for running is a good example. You run a mile, then walk a minute and repeat for as many miles as you desire. In spinning, I monitor my heart rate, always returning to my aerobic zone within 10 minutes of starting an intense interval.

The Bottom Line:
Sure the benefits of exercise diminish as we age but the long term health benefits don’t. If anything, the preventive aspects of exercise increase. Exercise is a vital aspect of health. Find an activity that is engaging and watch your health improve.

Source: June 17, 2016 National Institutes of Health

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