Sport and Age

Hi, how are you? This month I thought I would talk about a concept that we all know is good for us and the more we read or hear about it, we think about it and go out and do it if we haven´t already taken it up. We are talking about sport and age.

We all know that physical exercise is good for every age group – improving quality of life and preventing all types of future health problems.

Before doing any kind of physical activity, and especially if you have a sedentary lifestyle, it´s important to take into consideration

  • Age
  • Personal history both sport and health (heart and respiratory problems for example need particular caution)
  • Current level of physical fitness
  • Aims – fun, fitness, health or competitive

The elderly and physical activity:

Being older doesn´t mean having to spend all day sat or lying down and regularly spending all day on your own isn´t good for you. Older people are advised to take part in some kind of well supervised or personalized group physical activity as it´s proven to have both physical and psychological benefits. Just some of the benefits of regular activity are

  • Reduces joint pain
  • Improves movement and flexibility
  • Helps weight loss
  • Improves insomnia
  • Increases muscle and bone mass
  • Regulates intestinal activity
  • Reduces anxiety and the risk of depression
  • Helps coordination

So in summary, promotes long term self sufficiency.

Before starting an activity, the program and recommendations need to be personalized as it´s essential to know the limitations of each person. As mentioned previously, it could be necessary for example to have an electrocardiogram or a visit to a reputable physiotherapist for advice on what needs to be improved. If weight is an issue too, then it´s important to combine exercise with a sensible diet and remove or reduce all those foods that stop weight loss.

It is also important to choose an activity that you like in order to stay motivated. Many older people, either with or without health problems, choose walking as a healthy and effective way of exercising. It´s important to avoid impact or hills and this in particular has to be taken account of where we live here in Gran Alacant!   Choose somewhere flat, such as the lower part of GA and Arenales seafront. As mentioned in a previous article, it is important to stretch afterwards. Other suitable activities could be Pilates, Yoga, swimming or Tai Chi but you should always do these under the control of a professional teacher.

Sport and Children:

If we regularly do exercise ourselves, it is much easier for our children to make exercise a regular part of their lives too … this is a healthy way to educate our children, they will copy our habits and later on it will be much harder for them to give it up.   There are many ways to increase the amount of sport children do and increase their quality of life, particularly for the future.

There are many influences on childhood development: hormonal, neurological, environmental …while the hormonal change, with which come the important physical changes of puberty, happens between 11 and 14, the neurological changes have actually been happening long before this age so these things have to be taken into account during training from a young age. This means it´s possible to start strength exercises before the onset of adolescence but not with the objective of increasing muscle mass, more an improvement of muscle fibre through movement and coordination. This type of training can start as young as 8 when the nervous system has reached an important developmental stage. An example of improving intermuscular coordination training would be throwing games, circuits, etc. At the age of puberty, it´s then possible to start intermuscular strength training. By now a young person´s technique will have improved enormously and even if he doesn´t go on to be a competitive athlete, doing sport for fun will improve the quality of his life.

So ..we can see the importance of physical activity throughout our lives. For me, the most important thing is to enjoy it and because it does us good. It should become such a part of our lives like breakfast or sleep, that it is a necessity!

Thank you for reading … next month we will look at women and sport, a subject that needs a separate article of its own. Until next time ..