Carolinas HealthCare System

Sports Medicine & Injury Care
Can Older People Make Up for 'Lost' Exercise Time?

People who begin exercise later in life may actually be able to reverse the risk of chronic health problems

It’s common knowledge that exercise leads to better overall health. But new information indicates that even if someone hasn’t regularly exercised in the past, he or she can make up for lost time by adopting an exercise regimen later in life.

A study conducted at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London tracked the daily regimens of 3,500 people with an average age of 64 over eight years. The study concluded there was a direct link between the likelihood of healthy aging and the amount of exercise in the daily regimen. The study also and noted “significant health benefits were even seen among participants who became physically active late in life.”

“What’s great about this study is that [the researchers] were looking specifically at how physical activity can prevent chronic conditions and actually prevent people from developing memory and physical problems and other age-related issues,” said Judi L. Tassone, MD, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Carolinas HealthCare System. “There is a consistent relationship between people who stayed active or became active and healthy aging,” she added.

Better Late than Never...

While older folks may be reluctant to start an exercise regimen or anxious about trying a new activity, Dr. Tassone said even the smallest amount of exercise can lead to significant improvements in health.
“Lots of people don’t like going to the gym,” she said. “But, maybe they enjoy gardening or walking outside. Lots of people enjoy exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike.”

Better Late than Never...

Sports Medicine & Injury Care offers same-day appointment scheduling.

To schedule an appointment with Sports Medicine & Injury Care call 704-863-HURT or visit our website.

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Even small, daily changes like parking as far away as possible in the parking lot and taking the stairs instead of the elevator can also make a significant positive impact on wellness. Dr. Tassone said your main goal should be to do something active – even if it’s not a regimented exercise plan. “Our bodies are made of cells,” she said. “When you are actively moving, you’re supporting blood flow into those cells. It’s that blood flow that brings in nutrients and oxygen. [This is what] keeps our bodies from becoming stiff and weak.”

How to get started:

Have an orthopedic concern that’s keeping you from being active? Call 704-863-HURT or visit our website to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tassone or one of her colleagues at Sports Medicine & Injury Care. If you are ready to start being more active, Dr. Tassone recommends visiting your local YMCA, senior center, place of worship or local community center to learn more about suitable exercise classes.

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