Secrets for Keeping Active in Aging Men. What to do?

Many aging men are asking the question: how do I stay active?

I have male patients, in their mid-60s and 70s, who are still going to the gym, skiing and playing basketball.

Regardless of the exercise you enjoy, maintaining good muscle strength in aging men is paramount to bone strength and preventing risk of fractures and falling.

As we get older, our muscle strength drops. A study in the UK by Dr. Ayse Zengin found that a decrease in muscle strength and power in aging men leads to increased risk of falling and fractures.

Isn’t bone weakness only a concern for women?

Although fracture due to osteoporosis is more common in women (1 in 3) than in men (1 in 5), the mortality rate is higher in men (37%) than in women (28%) according to Osteoporosis Canada. This means both men and women who are aging need to focus on muscle strength exercises that contribute to bone strength (weight bearing cardio and muscle strength exercises, for example). Ideally, as you age, have a trainer or athletic therapist design an activity regimen that is right for your body needs, and addresses specific weaknesses, postural issues, etc.

What exercise should I do now?

Regardless of the exercises you choose, make sure there are components of strength and power building. For example, if you are used to exercising, maybe add squats with a chair, or lunges to your program. If you have been inactive for a long time, you can just start with simple walking to build up some strength, and then expand from there. Here is a great video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UiaWhdXb6M) to demonstrate some examples of leg exercises for strengthening, that can be done at home, without weights.

There are so many ways to stay active and enjoy yourself as you age. Spend some time online to research ideas. Here are some Guidelines for activity in seniors http://www.csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/CSEP_PAGuidelines_older-adults_en.pdf

If you experience any discomfort in your ankles, knees, hips or lower back, or other pain from activity, please consult your health practitioners, and your activity can be modified to suit your needs. An assessment by a Sport Medicine Physician or Sport Chiropractor is a good beginning. You may then see a physiotherapist, athletic therapist or trainer to develop the right program for you, and your specific needs.

Is exercise enough?

Staying active also means that your body will need sufficient fuel to supply your body. One of the important nutritional elements for building muscle is protein. The aging population tends to consume less protein, perhaps due to digestive issues, or a struggle to keep from putting on weight. Protein is best absorbed when it is evenly distributed in all meals as supposed to lots of protein at dinner (which is typical for most North American adults). There are plenty of websites available to advise you on amounts of protein and other nutrients in food. Here’s one https://food-nutrition.canada.ca/cnf-fce/index-eng.jsp. Jump online and search for the one that’s best for you.

How much protein? On average, 0.8 to 1 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight.
No matter how old you are, how active or inactive you’ve been, and what physical limitations you may have, there is exercise and activity that is right for you, and that you can enjoy! Just do your research, make sure a Sport Medicine Physician or other medical practitioner is guiding your choices, and then … get going! A little activity every day can make all the difference to healthy living and feeling great.

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