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Study: Exercise 'can help elderly people enjoy longer lives'

Research finds high resistance exercise helps preserve vital muscle mass and strength.

Weights: Even lifting groceries can help, scientist say (file pic).
Weights: Even lifting groceries can help, scientist say (file pic). Public Domain

Elderly people should be participating in high resistance, aerobic exercise if they want to enjoy healthier, longer lives, a study has found.

According to the report from health science researchers at the University of Stirling, older people should also be upping their daily protein intake to stay active and healthy.

In the study, Growing older with health and vitality, scientists present recommendations for physical activity and exercise in older adults, explaining that weight lifting, high intensity workouts and a protein-rich diet can have positive benefits for the over-65s.

Dr Oliver Witard, of the School of Sport, said: "As we grow older our muscle mass and strength naturally decline, something that is accelerated by inactivity and poor nutrition. By making simple lifestyle changes that target muscle mass and strength, older people will be able to enjoy longer and healthier lives.

"Activities like resistance exercise, high-intensity aerobics and even household tasks like carrying bags of groceries, can really benefit healthy older members of the population and help them preserve vital muscle mass and strength.

"This type of activity isn't currently recommended in physical activity guidelines and we believe they could make a big difference to older people's wellbeing."

The study also recommends that a greater emphasis is placed on protein in older people's diets.

Dr Witard continued: "Current guidelines recommend that elderly people consume a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass each day- the equivalent of about 60 grams of protein for a male weighing 75 kilograms. However we believe this should be increased by between 50 and 90% based on individual lifestyles and diets, to maximise muscle growth.

"Older people also tend to consume most of their protein in just one of their daily meals, however to better feed the muscles, protein intake should be spread evenly throughout the day."

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