July 19th, 2011
Aging America: Baby boomers worry about cancer, memory loss, but weight is a big threat too: It takes physical activity, not just dieting, to shed pounds. That’s especially important as people start to age and dieting alone could cost them precious muscle in addition to fat, says Jack Rejeski of Wake Forest University, a specialist in exercise and aging. Whether you’re overweight or just the right size, physical activity can help stave off the mobility problems that too often sneak up on the sedentary as they age. Muscles gradually become flabbier until people can find themselves on the verge of disability and loss of independence, like a canoe that floats peacefully until it gets too near a waterfall to pull back, Rejeski says. He led a study that found a modest weight loss plus walking 2 1/2 hours a week helped people 60 and older significantly improve their mobility. Even those who didn’t walk that much got some benefit.