I’ve found that many of my friends who are going through menopause are starting to look for the proverbial Fountain of Youth. While they may be looking for items that will turn back their physical appearance, it’s really important during this time of life to start paying attention to what lies underneath the skin’s surface. That’s because many chronic illnesses and conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure can start to rear their ugly heads because of aging, menopause or both.
So what can we do about it? It turns out the answer doesn’t come in a pill or a potion. Instead, you can find them in your closet – your running shoes, cross-trainers or walking shoes. Use them regularly and you will be giving yourself one of the best anti-aging presents possible.
Don’t believe me? Let me point you to a new study out of Australia. This study involved more than 32,000 women who were participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. This study, which started in 1996, followed women who were born during specific periods of time – from 1921-1926, from 1946-1951, and from 1973-1978 – to gauge their long-term health. The researchers looked specifically at the four risk factors for heart disease – high body mass index, smoking, high blood pressure and physical inactivity -- across the lifespan of these women.
They found that the relative risks as well as the prevalence of these risks varied across the women’s lifespans. For instance, the highest risk for heart disease in younger women was attributed to smoking. However, from age 31 on, the highest risk was due to physical inactivity. Furthermore, the researchers found that the risk of heart disease that was attributable to inactivity far outweighed other risk factors, including having a high body mass index.
If that’s not enough to get you off the couch, there’s more! Researchers are finding that it’s never too late to get started exercising. A recent study out of England that looked at exercise in later life involved 3,454 initially disease-free men and women who were, on average, 63 years of age. These adults were all participants in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, which consisted of community dwelling older adults. The participants were asked to report on their physical activity at the start of the study in 2002-2003 and then provide additional reports regularly through the course of the study. The researchers then followed up eight years later to determine which participants had achieved healthy aging, which was defined as having survived without developing a major chronic disease, depressive symptoms, physical impairment or cognitive impairment.
The researchers found that slightly more than 19 percent fit the description of healthy aging. They learned that this group participated in moderate or vigorous activity at least once a week, as compared to the inactive group. Additionally, becoming active or remaining active was associated with healthy aging. Furthermore, researchers found that participants who became physically active relatively late in life still saw significant health benefits.
The results of both of these studies sent me to the sporting goods store today for a new pair of cross-trainers. I’m planning on continuing to participate in a walking program and also to continue to find ways to get more aerobic exercise as well as strength and flexibility exercises, since they are so beneficial to women as we age. I hope you join me in getting moving!
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Brown, W. J., et al. (2014). Comparing population attributable risks for heart disease across the adult lifespan in women. British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Hamer, M., et al. (2013). Taking up physical activity in later life and healthy ageing: the English longitudinal study of ageing. British Journal of Sport Medicine.
Published On: May 16, 2014