Have a look at our Classes page and join us this week in Colinton + Craiglockhart church halls, Edinburgh.
Just to let you know that there’s a Halls Open Morning this Saturday: on Saturday 31 August in Craiglockhart Church from 10am-12 noon. As a hall user myself, I’ll have a stall/table and be there to chat to anyone who may not know about/may be interested in joining our classes. I’m sure that all/most of the other hall user groups will have stalls too. There will be a pop-up café and I hope that you’ll come along and say “hi” to me if you have time. Lunch will also be served until 1.30pm.
I was reading an online FitPro blog post which was about the plasticity of aging
The article (taken in context but re-worded slightly) asked what we think an 80 or even 90-year-old looks like. Do we think they’re wrinkled, dysfunctional, unhealthy, incontinent, senile and inactive? Or might they be healthy, vigorous, strong, active, energetic, adventurous and intelligent? Could they be like the 93 year old German gymnast Johanna Quaas, the 83 year old American bodybuilder Ernestine Shepherd or 72 year old super woman Lauren Bruzzone who pushes her body to it’s limits by doing tough workouts including performing weighted medicine ball planks – I posted a video on my Complementary Fitness Facebook page last week, have a look at part of her workout, it’s very inspiring.
As a society, we have vastly underestimated our ageing potential and this may have contributed to an ageist perspective and many stereotypes that persist. It’s important as class participants, and for myself as a fitness instructor, to have an accurate perspective of ageing when training/exercising so that we reach our true potential, instead of any self-limiting beliefs that we can’t do X,Y,Z because we’re …… age.
They say that age is just a number and it’s soooo true!
The blog post continued saying that ‘sarcopenia refers to the age-associated loss of muscle mass, while dynapenia refers to the age-associated loss of muscle function (strength, contractile velocity, etc)’ and that the average person will lose about 30% of their muscle mass from the age of 30 – 70, although there’s a huge degree of variability between individuals. Muscle power declines earlier with age and more than strength (since contractile velocity also declines).
(Older) adult strength and power contribute significantly to functional abilities although power is more important. Some important studies were published demonstrating that resistance exercise can significantly, and dramatically, increase strength and muscle mass in people in their 80s and 90s. Many research studies have also concluded that power training can improve muscle power into late adulthood and evidence shows that virtually every physiological factor can be improved with adequate training.
Seniors can improve flexibility by stretching and cardiorespiratory fitness through aerobics and balance through balance training.
There’s no evidence to say that there’s an age limit on the ability to adapt to training.
Plasticity of our brains – neuroplasticity:
Dementia is one of, if not THE greatest concern among older adults, and with the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease on the rise, it is a valid concern. It’s anticipated that the worldwide cases of Alzheimer’s disease will increase from 46.8 million in 2015 to 131.5 million in 2050. We’re all encouraged to keep our brains healthy and continue to learn, to do Sudoku or crossword puzzles, learn something new like a new language etc as we age. It is also a common belief that brain function naturally declines with age and there’s overwhelming research suggesting that cognitive function in old age is primarily due to lifestyle factors, rather than the ageing process. Good to know that nutrition, stress, environment, physical activity and relationships can all have an impact on cognition as we get older. Although some individuals will suffer from memory loss or even develop dementia, they’re not normal parts of the ageing process. Many older adults remain mentally sharp throughout their whole life. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve cognitive function and it’s said, is probably better than playing any of the brain games that have become so popular.
When it comes to functional plasticity, the article says that the relationship between primary ageing (which is biological ageing) and secondary ageing (which is due to lifestyle) is most apparent in studies of masters’ athletes and that these individuals are physiologically and functionally 20-30 years younger than their less-active peers. Not only are they able to perform at their respective sports at a high level, but they have less chronic health conditions and lower rates of functional impairments and disability. We may not be top class athletes but many studies on ageing consistently identify lifestyle as having much more of an impact on how well a person ages and how long they live, than the ageing process itself.
Years ago, when the majority of people retired at the age of 60 (expecting to get their pension at that time!!!), some might have ‘taken up golf’ or joined a walking group (still good to do) but many just stopped being as active as they might have been or even ‘put their feet up’. Although I’m past the 60 mark myself and possibly an older fitness instructor, we’re still encouraged to train ourselves and clients robustly and intensely enough to create a progressive overload. When appropriate, we’re told to forget the slow, easy, safe exercise programmes that have been stereotypically used with seniors and that just like with any other population, continued training should be enough to produce gains – older adults are no different.
As we age and continue to exercise, we can still expect to get significantly better with training which means we’ll be able to do the stuff that we love to do or need to do ie play with grandchildren, go on holiday, climb a mountain (blowing my own trumpet but many of you have thanked me for improved fitness and being able to climb hills with relative ease). As we age, and as older adults, we can achieve a much higher level of physical function than they currently enjoy if we make the right lifestyle choices that include regular exercise and we can almost literally turn back the clock physiologically, cognitively and functionally. How awesome is that?
Ps that’s why we continue to ‘work hard’ in our classes and I like to make each class ‘unique’ so that we don’t get used to or expect ‘the same workout each time’. I like to ‘keep it fresh’ and mix things up – keeping us guessing and adapting.
I’d like to hear from you so please give me more feedback about our classes, how you’re getting on generally and with your fitness, diet and lifestyle (incl mind, body, meditation etc).
I look forward to seeing you this week for more fitness, fun, exercise/stretch options & variations while we’re working towards improving our flexibility, strength, posture and balance too. See you soon.
Contact me by email: email@example.com