Benefits of physical practices for senior people’s life quality and longevity

Dr. Hab., Professor V.G. Shilko1
PhD, Associate Professor N.L. Guseva1
V.S. Kolpashnikova1
1Tomsk State University, Tomsk

Keywords: senior population, motor activity, physical exercise, training system, physical fitness, active longevity, life quality, aging process triggers

Background. Presently the senior (60+ year old) population share is reported to rapidly grow the world over with the associating medical, social and economic issues for many countries. The Russian Federation is still in need of the formal governmental policies to address the aging-related issues on a consistent national basis [1]. The regional and municipal governments have reported successes in their senior population health improvement projects and initiatives although they still need to be complemented by efficient and effective age-specific physical education programs [2].

Objective of the study was to analyze the factors of influence on the senior people’s life quality and longevity and develop a special physical education model to address these iisues.

Methods and structure of the study. Since 2018, the Tomsk State University’s Physical Education Department team has run an experiment to rate benefits of a special Active Longevity physical education model for Experimental Group of the 65+ year old women (EG, n=20). The training model gives a special consideration to the key triggers of the age-specific psycho-physiological health regresses of detrimental effect on the life quality and active longevity including muscle mass decrease, growing fatigue, weakening hand grip, slower walking, signs of dementia, lower physical fitness, poor body balancing skills with the growing risks of falls etc. The Active Longevity physical education model offers special body conditioning practices to improve the critical physical qualities with a special attention to the above aging process triggers and includes a range of general, static and strength endurance (making up to 50% of the total), movement coordination qualities (20% of the total) and strength, dexterity and flexibility (10% each) developing practices. The 1.5-hour twice-a-week EG trainings are dominated by the circular training practices. The Reference Group (RG, n=20) trainings are optional and dominated by swimming, varied walking, gymnastics and traditional physical fitness practices. The pre-experimental physical fitness tests found now significant intergroup (EG vs. RG) differences. The physical fitness and functionality progress rating tests are run once in 3 months. The Active Longevity physical education model testing experiment will take three years.

Results and discussion. As reported by the recent questionnaire surveys, the individual/ group walking practices dominate in the senior people’s physical training models as they offer great health benefits and are easy, accessible for everybody and season-independent. As reported by Frank Hu et al. (Harvard University, USA), those who abstain from smoking and alcohol, eat healthy foods, keep healthy body shape and physically active – leave ten years more than the others [5]. Thus a study report in Lancet Public Health journal with analyses of 493,737 clinical cases found that poor juvenile physical fitness and inactivity lays a basis for health issues with age and increases the risks of a sudden premature death. Ranked with the high-risk group were the people with the following health and physical fitness issues: weight loss, constant fatigue, weakening hand grip, physical inactivity, and slowing walking pace [3].

A research group from Columbia University (New York, USA) led by Eric Candel found that risks of senile dementia are at least 2 times lower for the sporting senior individuals. Physical trainings with weights were found to facilitate generation of RbAp48 protein by bone tissue with the relevant health benefits as the shortage of this protein is known to trigger memory regresses in the normal aging process [4].

Experimental studies of Helena Herder from Gothenburg University (Sweden) showed the incidence of senile dementia in senior women depending on the physical fitness level: for example, only 5% of the senior women able to run stationary bike at 120W were diagnosed with age-specific memorizing problems, whilst half of those who failed this test showed clear signs of dementia. Furthermore, 45-years-long health studies of about two hundred Swedish women showed the high health benefits of habitual gymnastics and intensive physical activity that keep up good health for a few decades.

In 2008, a research team from Australia reported meaningful memory improvements in the senior people who walked for 50 minutes every day; and in 2015 an Italian research group found regular physical practices being beneficial for the inter-neuron connections in the new motor skills mastering process. Later on a group from Leicester University (UK) found the individual longevity being correlated with the walking speed, body mass index, waist size and hand grip strength. The life expectancy of the British senior women and men who reported walking fast was found to average 86.7-87.8 and 85.2-86.8 years, respectively – versus the slow walkers whose life expectancy averaged 72.4 and 64.8 years, respectively [6]. It should be mentioned that the correlations of the waist size, fat mass and hand grip strength with the life expectancy was not that striking as expected, particularly in the women’s group.

The national physical education and sport system development strategy for the period up to 2020 on the whole and its  senior population service elements in particular make provisions for special physical education / health projects and services to facilitate the senior people’s physical trainings with assistance from volunteers including certified physical education and sport instructors. Since 2014 the national and local governments have run annual sports competitions for pensioners, commissioned new sports/ fitness centers, and the mass media organizations have promoted the popular physical education and sport services. These initiatives made some success as the physical education and sports popularity is reported to grow. Thus the recent survey found 18.3% of the senior respondents reportedly committed for physical education and sports and 55% aware of its health benefits. It should be mentioned, however, that the actual physical activity of the senior population is still limited due to the services of the local commercial fitness centers and some other sports facilities being non-affordable for them, whilst the walking and cycling initiatives are limited by the reported shortage of comfortable tracks and routes for seniors in most of the Russian regions [2].

Many local governments, however, are sensitive to the physical education and sports / health needs of the senior residents and offer special mass sports events, forums and creative festivals for them – including, for example, the ‘I Love Life’ Festival in the Republic of Bashkortostan and Senior Sports Games in the Altai Territory run in 2012. The both events reported above 100 senior competitors in drafts, chess, darts, table tennis, 100m walking, combined relay race, balls throws and tug of war. Furthermore, some local governments offer discounts, preferences and other incentives for the senior people willing to attend sports facilities and physical education and sports events and enjoy modern physical education and sports services. It should be confessed, however, that these incentives are still not efficient enough since the habitually sporting 60+ year old population is reported at about 650 thousand only – i.e. around 3% of the federal total.

Conclusion

• Foreign study reports confirm that the juvenile physical inactivity lays a basis for health issues with age and increases the risks of a sudden premature death.

• Sporting lifestyles of the senior population are important for the socioeconomic progress due to the fact that good health, physical fitness and the associating high intellectual working capacity are of high combined benefit for the active longevity and economy.

• The Russian Federation is still in need of the formal governmental policies to address the aging-related issues on a consistent national basis and support the relevant physical education and sports / health projects and initiatives for the senior population.

The Tomsk State University’s Physical Education Department team runs an experiment to rate benefits of the special Active Longevity physical education model for the 65+ year old women focused on the key triggers of the age-specific psycho-physiological health regresses of special detriment for the life quality and active longevity including the falling muscle mass, growing fatigue, weakening hand grip, slower walking, signs of dementia, lower physical fitness and poorer body balancing skills with the growing risks of falls.

References

  1. Lubysheva L.I., Zagrevskaya A.I. "Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kultury" journal: information flow content analysis. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. 2017. no. 1 pp.  94-96.
  2. Khorkina N.A., Filippova A.V. Physical activity of older people as an object of state's controlling influence. Voprosy gosudarstvennogo i munitsipalnogo upravleniya. 2015. no.2. pp. 197-222.
  3. Frailty and pre-frailty in middle-aged and older adults and its association with multimorbidity and mortality: a prospective analysis of 493 737 UK Biobank participants Hanlon, Peter et al. The Lancet Public Health, Volume 3, Issue 7, e323 - e332.
  4. Kosmidis S., Polyzos A., Harvey L., Youssef M., Denny C. A., Dranovsky A., & Kandel E. R. (2018). RbAp48 protein is a critical component of GPR158/OCN signaling and ameliorates age-related memory loss. Cell Reports, 25(4), 959-973.e6. doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2018.09.077.
  5. Li Y., Pan A., Wang D.D., Liu X., Dhana K., Franco O.H., Kaptoge S., Di Angelantonio, E., Stampfer, M., Willett, W.C. & Hu, F.B. 2018, "Impact of healthy lifestyle factors on life expectancies in the us population", Circulation, vol. 138, no. 4, pp. 345-355.
  6. Stamatakis E, Kelly P, Strain T. et al Self-rated walking pace and all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality: individual participant pooled analysis of 50 225 walkers from 11 population British cohorts British Journal of Sports Medicine 2018;52:761-768.

Corresponding author: vshilko@mail.ru

Abstract

Presently the senior population (60+ years of age) is reported to grow the world over with the natural medical, social and economic issues for many countries. The Russian Federation is still in need in the government policies for addressing these issues on the national scale, albeit some regions and municipalities have positive experiences of the target physical education services to senior people. The study was designed to analyze benefits of physical practices for the senior people’s life quality and longevity. It should be noted that most of the world nations are pursuing the relevant socio-economic, institutional, educational, financial and demographic policies to activate the senior people. The Russian Federation still needs to advance the physical activation policies and practices for this age group.

The study data and analyses show that the poor physical fitness of young generation may be ranked among the key reasons for the health issues in the senior age including the accidental death risks. Physical education service to the senior population groups brings great socio-economic benefits for the nation including the health improvements, good physical fitness, good physical and mental performance standards and active longevity of the age group. The Russian Federation is still in need of the relevant policy documents and physical education/ health programs to encourage the senior people’s physical activity.