Physical declines- the type that can lead to loss of independence- begin sooner in life than typically detected, often when people are still in their 50s, according to a Duke Health Study released in 2016.
A Duke-led team enrolled participants from across the US, including many in Kannapolis, that ranged in age from their 30s through their 100s, with broad representation across sexes and races. All participants performed the same simple tasks to demonstrate strength, endurance or balance. Men generally performed better than women on the tasks, and younger people outperformed older participants. The study results showed that “the age at which declines in physical ability began to appear – in the decade of the 50s – were consistent regardless of gender or other demographic features.”
What do these research findings mean? The end result is that it is never too early or too late to begin taking steps to keep yourself healthy. From cooking together as a family to walking with your friends, you can keep yourself active and independent far into your older years.
“Our research reinforces a life-span approach to maintaining physical ability – don’t wait until you are 80 years old and cannot get out of a chair,” said lead author Katherine S. Hall, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at Duke. “People often misinterpret ‘aging’ to mean ‘aged’, and that issues of functional independence aren’t important until later in life. This bias can exist among researchers and healthcare providers, too. The good news is, with proper attention and effort, the ability to function independently can often be preserved with regular exercise.”