Vopat BG, Klinge SA, McClure PK, Fadale PD. “The Effects of Fitness on the Aging Process.” J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2014 Sep;22(9):576-585.
While it has been thought that aging causes an inevitable deterioration of the body and its ability to function, as well as increased rates of related injuries and diseases, emerging evidence based on senior, elite athletes suggests that a regimen of comprehensive fitness and nutrition routines helps minimize bone and joint health decline and maintain overall physical health. Bryan G. Vopat and colleagues report that the positive effects of physical activity on maintaining bone density, muscle mass, ligament and tendon function, and cartilage volume are keys to optimal physical function and health. The team highlights three exercise-based keys:
1. Resistance training. Prolonged, intense resistance training can increase muscle strength, lean muscle and bone mass more consistently than aerobic exercise alone. Moderately intense resistance regimens also decrease fat mass. Sustained lower and upper body resistance training bolsters bone density and reduces the risk of strains, sprains and acute fractures.
2. Endurance training. Sustained and at least moderately intensive aerobic training promotes heart health, increases oxygen consumption, and has been linked to other musculoskeletal benefits, including less accumulation of fat mass, maintenance of muscle strength and cartilage volumes. A minimum of 150 to 300 minutes a week of endurance training, in 10 to 30 minute episodes, for elite senior athletes is recommended. Less vigorous and/or short-duration aerobic regimens may provide limited benefit.
3. Flexibility and balance. Flexibility exercises are strongly recommended for active older adults to maintain range of motion, optimize performance and limit injury. Two days a week or more of flexibility training—sustained stretches and static/non-ballistic (non-resistant) movements—are recommended for senior athletes. Progressively difficult postures (depending on tolerance and ability) are recommended for improving and maintaining balance.
Observing that: “An updated understanding of how active adults defy age helps orthopaedic surgeons not only manage their patients’ performance but also improve their lives,” the study authors urge that: “A large segment of sedentary older adults will benefit from counseling that encourages the pursuit of more active and healthier lifestyles.”