THE “M” Effect Pyramid & Exercise

My opening article highlighted the importance of fitness and a healthy lifestyle during the middle age years to enhance future wellness. Studies have confirmed that this not only prolongs life but also delays the onset of diseases that are prevalent amongst ageing people. It also detailed the fact that physical fitness and activity levels decline substantially as we reach middle age, resulting in obesity and increased risk of heart disease and a host of other ailments.

 ‘Middle age spread’ and ‘mid-life flab’ are phrases known to most of us and are accepted as the norm in present day society. This dramatic changing of the body’s shape is attributed to a number of things including lack Middle age wellness, health and fitnessof exercise, hormonal imbalances, poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. This is the first component of the ‘M’ effect and makes up the negative side of the scale.

If an individual does not take any action during middle age there will be a sustained and accelerated deterioration of fitness, weight, health and quality of life. In the end it is all about lifestyle changes but it does not, necessarily, have to be dramatic or unenjoyable. The ‘M’ Effect positives listed in figure 1 are the stabilisers that have a major positive impact on overall wellness and future wellbeing. It is never too late to make these changes or adjustments and the benefits will far outweigh the effort involved.

The ‘M’ Effect positives can be split into three categories which comprise of fitness, health and diet and lifestyle.

I will use the rest of this posting to cover the first group. The human body generally responds well to physical exercise and substantial improvements may be anticipated in heart and lung function, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility. A passable level of fitness is vital to anyone wanting to have quality of life but it does not have to mean hours in the gym or out on the road.

1) Movement (aerobic exercise)

Aerobic exercise is physical activity that uses large muscle groups at a regular pace and stimulates the body to release energy through the increased utilization of oxygen.

The Mayo Clinic lists the following advantages of doing aerobic activity

1. Keep excess pounds at bay
Combined with a healthy diet, aerobic exercise helps you lose weight.

2. Increase your stamina
Aerobic exercise may make you tired in the short term. But over the long term, you’ll enjoy increased stamina and reduced fatigue.

3. Ward off viral illnesses
Aerobic exercise activates your immune system. This leaves you less susceptible to minor viral illnesses, such as colds and flu.

4. Reduce your health risks
Aerobic exercise reduces the risk of many conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer. Weight-bearing aerobic exercises, such as walking, reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

5. Manage chronic conditions
Aerobic exercise helps lower high blood pressure and control blood sugar. If you’ve had a heart attack, aerobic exercise helps prevent subsequent attacks.

6. Strengthen your heart
A stronger heart doesn’t need to beat as fast. A stronger heart also pumps blood more efficiently, which improves blood flow to all parts of your body.

7. Keep your arteries clear
Aerobic exercise boosts your high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol and lowers your low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol. The potential result? Less build-up of plaques in your arteries.

8. Boost your mood
Aerobic exercise can ease the gloominess of depression, reduce the tension associated with anxiety and promote relaxation.

9. Stay active and independent as you age
Aerobic exercise keeps your muscles strong, which can help you maintain mobility as you get older. Aerobic exercise also keeps your mind sharp. At least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three days a week seems to reduce cognitive decline in older adults.

10. Live longer
Studies show that people who participate in regular aerobic exercise live longer than those who don’t exercise regularly.

If you maintain a regular aerobic exercise program as you get older, your muscles will stay stronger and aid in maintaining stability and avoiding falls. This will help keep you independent and on your own longer.

Movement is the first element to achieving an improvement in present and future wellbeing. Muscle mass (resistance training) and Multiplicity (variety) are the other two vital fitness components. I will explain the latter two in my next article introducing the ‘M’ Effect.

Acknowledgement: The Mayo Clinic – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/aerobic-exercise/EP00002

Introduction to The ‘M’ Effect – Middle Age – Wellness, Health and Fitness

 

The ‘M’ Effect - Middle Age – Wellness, Health and Fitness photo

I finally make my first post after weeks of preparing, planning and researching the subject of this blog.

Being in my early fifties and a certified fitness industry practitioner I am fascinated with wellness, health and fitness. This obsession is principally focussed towards my own age segment which covers people in the middle age demographic. This critical time in a person’s life in terms of health and wellbeing is, unfortunately, often neglected. Some time ago I was researching health and fitness for people over forty and was amazed at how scantily the topic is covered on the internet. I aim to help to rectify that with this blog.

There are numerous benefits to living a healthy and fit lifestyle in the 40 to 65 age bracket. Most of which are glaringly obvious. However, there are a number of positives which are not as apparent but just as important. The one that I want to write about today is the improvement to quality of life in later years. A number of noteworthy studies highlight the importance of this topic.

A study published on the 27th August 2012 by the University of Texas – Southwestern Medical Centre and the Cooper Institute, in Dallas suggests that being or becoming fit in middle age even if you haven’t previously bothered with exercise, appears to reshape the landscape of ageing.

18,670 healthy men and women, with an average age of 49, participated in the study and an initial treadmill test was used to determine their aerobic fitness. Based on the results of this initial fitness test, the researchers divided the group into five fitness categories, with the bulk of the people residing in the least-fit section.

Then, almost 30 years later, the researchers checked the same individuals’ Medicare claim records, from 1999 through to 2009, by which time most of the participants were in their 70s or 80s.

What they found was that those in the least fit category at the initial check-up were the most likely to have developed any of eight serious or chronic conditions early in the aging process. The ailments included Alzheimer’s disease, colon or lung cancer, congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Type II diabetes and heart disease.

The adults who’d been the most fit in their 40s and 50s often developed many of the same conditions, but notably these appeared significantly later in life than for the less fit. Typically, the most aerobically fit people lived with chronic illnesses in the final five years of their lives, instead of the final 10, 15 or even 20 years. This analysis suggests the people who are more fit delayed the onset of disease, as well as delayed mortality.

A further compelling reason to exercise is the fact that the study identified that the ‘more-fit’ participants had 38 percent lower medical costs many years later when the Medicare records were checked.

“Exercise is the best medicine we have,” said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Noting that exercise has an impact on blood pressure, diabetes and even mood, she said “the positive effect of exercise on the body is powerful and it’s empowering.”

In another long term study carried out by the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division it was found that Physical fitness and activity levels decline substantially as we reach middle age, resulting in increased weight gain, an increased risk of heart disease and a host of other ailments. Study participants saw their physical fitness levels decline by an average 28 percent, their weight increase by an average 20 percent, and their self-reported physical activity drop by an average 18 percent over a 20 year-period leading up to and into their middle age years.

Furthermore, in the past 30 years, the prevalence of obesity among adults ages 20 to 74 has increased dramatically from 15 percent to nearly 33 percent, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. People are more desk-bound, playing more computer games, watching additional TV, eating more and exercising less.

I believe that by making only minor adjustments to our lifestyle and eating habits we can live our twilight years happier, healthier and in far better physical condition. This does not have to mean strict abstinence, faddish diets or gruelling exercise regimes. In the next few postings I will talk about a concept I have developed, that I call ‘The “M” Effect’, and how it relates to middle age fitness and health. It may just make those retirement years a whole lot more enjoyable.