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When 10 Pounds Become 100

Filed Under: Men's Health at 1:31 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Sketch of an Older ManThere was a time when living to 40 was an accomplishment. Today, that number has more than doubled. Modern medicine and improved health care have enabled individuals to live well beyond the half-century and even century mark. The oldest woman alive is 114 and the oldest man 111/2.  The numbers listed beside everyone’s age are larger than ever but, unfortunately, so are the numbers next to weight.

Thirty-one-point-seven percent of seniors are obese, and that is turning the time that stretches before them into years of limited dependence. Forty-two-point-two percent are unable to walk a quarter of a mile, go up 10 steps without resting, lift/carry 10 pounds, stoop, crouch or kneel.  They have considerable difficulty getting in and out of bed, dressing themselves and eating. Essentially, they are unable to function on their own. You may think that this is simply a natural part of aging, but the numbers are drastically lower in other weight brackets and have, in recent years, remained relatively static for those groups. Clearly, obesity directly contributes to disability.

Therefore, the steps to improve function should also improve weight and that means exercise.  Currently, very few people over 70 are physically active. Changing this could change lives. Working out for just 45 minutes a day could improve strength by 75 to 100 percent. Lifting the grocery bag, a task that can seem monumental and impossible, would become natural. Seniors would be more able to live on their own, go on outings with their families and function through every day. It would make living longer worth living.

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