As a general statement, it is common knowledge that exercise is key to a healthy life, and can help prevent a lot of the lifestyle-based illnesses that we face today. However, an exciting new experiment is being planned to test the specific benefits of exercise on elderly individuals.
According to the leader of the new study, Dr. Dorthe Stensvold of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, “epidemiological studies suggest that exercise has a tremendous preventative effect on morbidity and premature death, but these findings need to be confirmed by randomized clinical trials.”
She adds, “generation 100 will determine whether exercise training leads to more active and healthier years, and will establish reference values for several important measures such as fitness level, daily physical activity, muscle strength, pulmonary function, cognitive function, ‘mental health,’ quality of life and balance.”
To test the effects of exercise on these measures in senior citizens, researchers started gathering participants for their study in 2012. As of spring 2013, just over 1,500 had been recruited. These participants have been divided into groups, and some will receive instruction in high intensity training, some will learn moderate intensity training, and others will serve as a control group, receiving only pointers on current advice regarding exercise.
The researchers will check in with participants after three years, then after five, and the study will conclude in 2023. At that time, the researchers will determine which exercises – and to what extent – were beneficial for prolonging life and improving quality of physical and mental health.
While we await the results of this study, it is important to note that exercise is absolutely essential to good health. Along with something active, such as brisk walking, it is important, especially for older individuals, to include some resistance training, in order to maintain or improve bone density and joint function.
Another interesting tidbit for seniors: as we recently reported, a combination of mind-body exercises, based in the ancient practice of mindfulness, has been found to help alleviate some symptoms of dementia, and lead to a better quality of life. Just a reminder that when we’re talking about exercise, it’s important to work out your brain as well as your body.
We will keep you posted on the results of this study as they unfold!
-The Alternative Daily