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Seniors’ Fitness Age v. Chronological Age

You could be over 60 and have a “fitness age” decades younger. It all depends on the shape you’re in and how hard you’re working to stay fit. This news comes from a study of participants in this year’s Senior Olympics for athletes over 50 showing that their fitness age is typically 25 years younger than their chronological age. More than 4,200 of the nearly 10,000 men and women who qualified for the games entered information about themselves on an online calculator designed to assess fitness age. Results showed that their average chronological age was 68, but their fitness age averaged 43. According to a New York Times’ interview with Dr. Pamela Peeke, M.D., a Senior Olympics board member and a competitor in the games, few of the athletes who qualified had begun to exercise and train seriously until they were middle-aged or older. The calculator was developed using health and fitness data gathered from more than 5,000 Norwegian adults, and was designed to quickly calculate aerobic capacity and relative fitness age based on gender, resting heart rate, waist size and exercise routine.

Want to Improve Your Abdominals?

Want to stretch and strengthen your hip flexors and abdominals? Try this yoga pose! There are variations for different levels, so most everyone can enjoy its benefits.

Yoga can help tone and strengthen all parts of the body, including internal organs. The Full Boat Pose is an abdominal and deep hip flexor and strengthener, requiring you to balance on the tripod formed by your sitting bones and tailbone.

The benefits of the Full Boat may include:

  • Strengthened abdomen, hip flexors, and spine
  • Stimulation of the kidneys, intestines and thyroid and prostate glands
  • Stress relief
  • Improved digestion

There are variations, including one you can perform while sitting at your desk! Learn more about this pose, including what it looks like, how to properly execute it, and who this pose may not be right for. Click here to see the Full Boat Pose.

Run Five Minutes, Save Your Life?

If you can find even five to 10 minutes a day for running, a new study suggests your risk of premature death would be significantly lower than that of people who don’t run or engage in any type of strenuous exercise. These findings come from a review that examined data from 55,137 people between the ages of 18 and 100 who had check-ups at the Cooper Clinic and Cooper Institute in Dallas, during which they had fitness tests and responded to questionnaires about their exercise habits. The researchers found that the daily runners had a 30 percent lower risk of dying from any cause than non-runners and a 45 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, even if they were overweight or smoked. All told, the runners lived three years longer than the non-runners. The report didn’t delve into the mechanisms behind the benefits of running and didn’t try to determine whether it was the only type of strenuous exercise that lowered the risk of premature death.

My take? The great advantage of running is its intensity. As this study suggests, it promotes fitness quickly and efficiently. Because of its intensity, running releases endorphins in many people, creating the runner's high that some describe as an "energy buzz." The euphoria experienced with running - like aerobic exercise highs in general - acts as an effective antidepressant. Running, however, also has some potentially serious disadvantages including a higher chance of injury than most other aerobic activities. Running can also traumatize the body, especially joints in the knees, and back, as well as the kidneys. To minimize the risk of injury never run on concrete. If possible, run on cinder tracks or dirt paths. Always wear well-made running shoes designed to minimize shock to the joints, and get a new pair whenever your present ones start to wear out. If you develop pain in any joints, stop running or cut back on it until you determine the reason for the pain. It will be interesting to see if other forms of intense exercise – sprint swimming, for example, which is easier on the joints – confer the same lowered risk of premature death.

Duck–chul Lee and Timothy Church et al, “Leisure-time Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology, doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2014.04.058