Exercise At Any Age
By Allan R. Handysides and Peter N. Landless
Your columns have emphasized the importance of exercise, but I am frightened to exercise because I’ve heard of athletes who have died during or directly after sporting events. How safe is it to exercise at all?
It is true that occasionally an athlete has experienced what is called “sudden death.” Fortunately, this is very uncommon, but it always makes the news because it is unexpected in active and fit individuals. The causes of such occurrences include:
We do, however, emphasize the importance of regular exercise, because it has been shown to have many health benefits that encourage wellness. These benefits include:
It is very important, however, to have a clearance from your physician before you start an exercise program if you have any known or suspected health problems.
Also, exercise needs to start off slowly and build up over time. The benefits of exercise are huge, and the actual risks, when tackled correctly, are minimal.
What is the best exercise to do?
Dan Buettner, author of the National Geographic book The Blue Zone and who has studied, among others, the longevity of Seventh-day Adventists, recommends that one “move naturally … be active without having to think about it” (p. 231). The activity needs to be moderate and sustained over time. The current recommendation is at least 30 minutes every day of the week. (How about a Sabbath afternoon walk, which is an excellent exercise, instead of a nap?)
Here are additional strategies to encourage more natural movement:
In summary—engage in an exercise you enjoy, do it consistently, and, basically—just do it!
Does exercise benefit all age groups?
Exercise that is appropriate to age, health circumstances, and climatic environment is beneficial to all. We have stressed, however, that it is important to consult your physician should there be health concerns prior to starting an exercise program.
A recent study reported in the British Medical Journal in March 2009 showed that sustained, increased activity in middle age is ultimately followed by a reduction in mortality (rate of death at specific ages) to the same level as those who had consistently high activity. This benefit equaled the positive effects of stopping smoking in a similar group of individuals.
The evidence is in, but the counsel of God’s servant Ellen White has been with us for all these years. So let’s just do the exercise and be blessed in many ways!
Allan R. Handysides, M.B., Ch.B., FRCPC, FRCSC, FACOG,
is director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department.
Peter N. Landless, M.B., B.Ch., M.Med., F.C.P.(SA), F.A.C.C.,
is ICPA executive director and associate director of the Health Ministries Department.