I am over 50 years old. Should I consult my doctor before taking part in physical activity?
This belief persists because of the recommendations made in the past. However, this belief is no longer valid. The American College of Sports Medicine has revised its guidance on physical activity for people aged 50 and over to encourage as many people as possible to incorporate this good habit into their lives.
It is now considered that healthy people do not need a doctor’s permission to start a fitness programme or take up a new sport. However, if you have cardiovascular disease, lung disease or metabolic disease, you should consult a doctor to ensure that it is safe for you to engage in regular physical activity. Also, if you want to try a sport that you have never tried before, it may be a good idea to take a class or turn to a qualified trainer for guidance.
The goals of physical activity for people aged 50 and over
We could undoubtedly devote pages and pages to the benefits of regular physical activity. Nevertheless, we have grouped these benefits into three main objectives for people aged 50 and over, illustrating the importance of being physically active.
Improved muscle condition: by the age of 30, we lose 8-10% of our muscle mass every decade if we do not exercise to maintain our muscle condition. However, around the age of 50-60, the effects of this muscle ‘loss’ are most likely to be felt. This can lead to difficulties with mobility or locomotion. So, regular physical activity as we age helps slow down muscle loss. This helps prevent mobility difficulties as we get older and even maintain independence in later life.
Maintaining balance: Like muscle strength, balance is a vital determinant of a person’s physical condition. So, as with muscle function, balance can be trained through different exercises. Better balance as we age means a considerable reduction in the risk of falls. When we know that falls can cause severe injuries in the elderly, including hip fractures, we understand the importance of minimising the risks.
Maintaining cognitive function: physical activity is not only beneficial for physical health. It has been proven that regular exercise helps slow down cognitive decline in ageing people, and it may even help prevent mental diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Do you want to grow old in good health while preserving your independence for as long as possible? Then don’t overlook the importance of doing physical activities you enjoy regularly. Many aspects of your physical and mental health will benefit you!