August – the month when women unite to celebrate their uniqueness and embrace the power that comes with being female. Women are special and so it makes sense that the ageing process, as well as the factors that influence ageing are different between the genders. So while there are a lot of similarities, there are some things that are uniquely female.
According to the World Health Organisation, women live an average four years longer than men. Life expectancy ranges from 58 – 80 across the world. However cardiovascular disease, which is often considered a “male” problem, is the number one cause of death in women. Luckily exercise substantially reduces not only the risk of cardiovascular disease but also many other chronic disease risk factors including breast cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and more. Women tend to live longer than men, as they make up 54% of people 60 years of age, 60% at age 75 and older, and to 70% at age 90 and older. As a result, it is even more important for older women to ensure that they maintain an active lifestyle achieving the correct type and amount of exercise. Being active is not just about adding years to your life, it’s about adding quality life to your years.
Improved health care has lead to an unprecedented growth in the older population and soon there will be more adults over 65 than children under 5 years of age. However, the incidence of falls is also increasing and fall injuries are now among the 20 most expensive medical conditions.
As seen in the image above, 1 in 3 individuals over the age of 65 falls once a year, and of those who fall, half will fall recurrently. By the age of 80 the proportion of older adults who fall annually increases to 50%. Falls lead to morbidity and mortality and can have serious implications on the individual as well as on the global population.
Almost everyone will suffer from some form of lower back pain (LBP) at some point in their lives… So what is it that makes us so susceptible to LBP?
The spine is the main boney structure in the back; it consists of thirty three vertebrae that work together to form the backbone of our body. These vertebrae alone cannot support the massive loads and high stress and strain that we put on our backs. The vertebrae require assistance from all our soft tissue structures, ligaments, joints, fascia and most especially our muscles.
The back is full of muscles, big ones that cover large portions of the back, and more importantly small, deep muscles surrounding the spine, that provide stability and support.
Over the last few months, I have reviewed several research issues related to aging in general and specifically the relationship between exercise and healthy aging. So what have I learned that I think physicians should know?
One of the most debated topics is how much exercise does one actually need to do a week? Some will say you need to be in the gym for an hour everyday… others swear by special machines that mean 10 minutes a week is enough…
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has researched this topic from every angle and has found indisputable evidence that all humans need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.