Q & A: Why Staying Fit After 50 Is Crucial

Interview: Dr. Mimi Secor.

Dr. Mimi Secor is Nurse Practitioner from the Boston area. She has been specializing in Women’s Health for over 40 years, is a national speaker and consultant, and is an international bestselling author of Debut a New You: Transforming Your Life At Any Age.

You’re older, wiser—and have more time to design a personal plan for fitness finesse! Interview Dr. Mimi Secor, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, to discuss why it’s so important to stay in shape as we get into our golden years. See how a healthy physical lifestyle benefits mind, body, and spirit.

 

1) What are the key benefits to staying fit after age 50?

According to numerous high-quality research studies, exercise benefits the older population in a number of ways. These benefits include; improved overall health, prevention of chronic diseases and improvement in preexisting chronic disease, increased endurance, strength, flexibility, mobility, balance, posture, reduced risk of falls, improved cognition, mood, social connection and contributes to weight maintenance.

    The ideal exercise program in older adults should include aerobic, resistance, flexibility, and balance training and be tailored to the abilities, limitations, and goals of each person.

2) What illnesses can you avoid through exercise?

According to a recently published comprehensive review of 175 papers, the authors reported that exercise can partially reverse age related decline. These benefits include decreasing the risk of cardiovascular mortality, sarcopenia (severe muscle loss), bone loss (osteopenia/osteoporosis) and even exerts a preventive effect against neurodegeneration (cognitive decline). The authors concluded that the “the systemic physiologic effects of exercise are profound.”

3) Is dementia offset through exercise?

Yes. Long term exercise has been shown to induce positive changes in brain structure through the phenomenon of synaptic plasticity. Plasticity is the ability of the brain to change and adapt to new information. These changes may reduce the risk for age‐related declines in cognitive function and neurodegenerative disease. Studies show endurance training (cardio) is a most effective in stimulating neurogenesis (formation of new neurons).

    This meta-analysis analyzed 10 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and showed that combined cognitive and physical exercise can improve cognition in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia.

4) How does fitness improve your thinking?

By promoting neurogenesis, cardiovascular health, prevention of hypertension, diabetes. These diseases are associated with cognitive decline. Exercise is well known for it’s cognitive benefits. Researchers have found that exercise stimulates neurogenesis, or the creation of new neurons. Neurogenesis occurs in the hippocampus, a key region of the brain that controls learning, memory and mood regulation.

5) Can you avoid medical expenses through regular exercise?

Yes, less chronic disease and acute illnesses, falls, episodal illnesses, depression, sleep problems, orthopedic complaints.

6) Can exercise help older men and women avoid muscle loss?

Muscle mass and strength progressively declines with age. Referred to sarcopenia, this decline can contribute to physical disability, poor quality of life, and even death. This review emphasizes the critical role of exercise and adequate protein in slowing the progression of sarcopenia.

7) Can you combine exercise with daily activities? (An example might be walking to the store rather than driving).

Yes. When running errands parking farther away from stores and other locations can provide exercise. Even household activities such as laundry, vacuuming, dusting, counts as exercise and are much better than being sedentary. Walking to buy the paper, pick up the mail or buy a few groceries are also a good way to combine exercise with daily activities.

8) Can exercise reduce the risk of falls in the older population?

In this Cochrane review (the highest quality of research) 108 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with 23,407 participants living in the community in 25 countries were analyzed. This massive research study concluded that exercise programs (balance and functional exercises) reduces the rate of falls and the number of people experiencing falls in older people living in the community (high-certainty evidence).

 

Available for Interviews: Dr. Mimi Secor

Dr. Mimi Secor
is a popular National Speaker and Consultant, educating advanced practice clinicians and consumers around the country and the world. She is the author of the book, Debut a New You: Transforming Your Life at Any Age.

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