Exercise research has recently made the news once again. It should be no surprise that exercise is good for everybody, especially for seniors. The results of this new research has helped quantify exactly how much exercise is needed by older adults in order to remain healthy.
Professor Robert Ross of kinesiology and health studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada in a recent study found that the elderly who want to manage their blood sugar, reduce their risk for diabetes and heart disease, and maintain an independent lifestyle should perform each week both aerobic and resistance exercise.
This study is significant in that it has suggested that the minimal amount of exercise that is needed each week for good health is one and a half hours of aerobics along with one hour of body building exercise.
Davidson LE, Hudson R, Kilpatrick K,
Effects of exercise modality on insulin resistance and functional limitation in older adults: a randomized controlled trial.
Arch Intern Med. 2009 Jan 26;169(2):122-31. PMID: 19171808 [Abstract]
CONCLUSION: “The combination of resistance and aerobic exercise was the optimal exercise strategy for simultaneous reduction in insulin resistance and functional limitation in previously sedentary, abdominally obese older adults.”
Thus, at a minimum you need to walk 90 minutes every week in order to meet your aerobic requirement. However, there are other studies out there that indicate that the intensity of your exercise is very important. Hence, while you can start out by walking you should gradually increase the intensity of your aerobic workout until you are doing 90 minutes of high intensity exercise each week.
Body building, resistance, or anaerobic exercise is likewise needed to build up your muscle mass. A high quality of life requires that you maintain your mobility. And, that means you need muscle enough to be able to walk and otherwise take care of all your physical needs. Planning on doing everything in a power chair is tantamount to committing slow suicide and guaranteeing a poor quality of life.
Everyone, however, should bear in mind that this study in many respects was flawed by design. The researchers studied 136 sedentary, abdominally obese older men and women. The keyword here is abdominally obese, which stands for abnormal subjects. In other words, they made their conclusions by studying individuals who were abnormal to begin with. People of normal weight who are thin, regardless of their age, do not need to manage their blood sugar. For the most part, only the abdominally obese are at increased risk of becoming diabetic.