Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Exercise vs. Old Age

The BBC put up two articles - one very short, one moderate length, about the effects of exercise on what we used to consider normal aging.

The shorter one concerns nerve impulses and muscles as we age:

Muscle loss in old age linked to fewer nerve signals

The basic idea there is that as we age, we weaken. As our muscles weaken, we lose the ability to send nerve signals to those weakened muscles.

But continued physical activity and training blunts that effect - keep the muscles, keep the nerve signals, and stay in a virtuous circle of fitness.

Exercise is required. We often think that it isn't, because unlike drinking water, eating, sleeping, going to work, etc. we don't feel an immediate negative consequence for not doing it. But it's insidious, and over time our capabilities go down. It's never too late to start, but like saving for retirement, the earlier you get going the better and longer you reap the rewards.

The second article concerns the immune system of older endurance athletes:

How exercise in old age prevents the immune system from declining

The basic idea here is that exercise reduces the decline in the immune system that usually follows age.

"A separate paper in Aging Cell found that the cyclists did not lose muscle mass or strength, and did not see an increase in body fat - which are usually associated with ageing."

"Associated" with aging is key, here. We think you get a weaker immune system and lose muscle mass and strength, and gain body fat, as you get older because you get older. It's not necessarily the case, and studies are showing that people who continue to exercise as they get older do not show that same effect. In other words, we think aging makes you weak and frail, but it's more like aging without exercise makes you weak and frail.

So keep training, and suffer less of the "age-related" declines in fitness and immune health.

Key takeaways here?

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