Life Health & Wellbeing

Friday 23 August 2019

Your body in your 70s

A group of seniors enjoy some exercise
A group of seniors enjoy some exercise

Peta Bee

By the age of 70, the average sedentary person has lost 25pc of their muscle mass compared with when they were in their 30s - and one woman in three suffers the bone thinning disease osteoporosis in their later decades. Your metabolism slows and you need around 250 fewer calories than you did a few decades ago.

However, exercise remains your best weapon against ageing. Evidence suggests that strength sessions - these can be simple sit-ups, press-ups and lunges - can be enough to make a profound difference to your health in this decade.

Indeed, a study published this month in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that body weight exercises such as press-ups and crunches matched the benefits of weight training in terms of health gains. Participants who did these exercises at home, twice a week for a total of 50 minutes had a 23pc reduction in the risk of premature death by any means, and a 31pc reduction in cancer-related death - the same as people who spent a total of 60 minutes a week heaving weights.

You should also spend time working on mobilising and stretching, specifically around your hips, glutes, hamstrings, thighs and shoulders as these are the areas that are most prone to 'failure' and/or place pressure onto your back.

Rock star Mick Jagger puts his extraordinary suppleness at 72 down to regular ballet moves and stretches. And it can benefit all of us as we get older when changes in tendons and ligaments occur, decreasing flexibility and restricting joint movement and ultimately impeding your ability to perform exercise. Yoga is an option, but you can also perform simple stretching exercises at home.

Keep up the daily walking, but think about dance as a form of exercise too. A recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience compared different forms of exercise - dancing and endurance training such as cycling or Nordic walking with poles - undertaken by volunteers in their late 60s and 70s for 18 months. Both approaches were shown to have an anti-ageing effect on the brain, but only regular dancing corresponded to a noticeable improvement in balance.

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