By: Chris Parchmann, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
Everyone has two ages classified as chronological age and biological age. Chronological age refers to the actual amount of time a person has been alive. In other words, the number of days, months or years a person has lived is the same, regardless of how healthy a lifestyle one leads. Chronological age is a superficial number and not necessarily a true representation of how old you are. Many fitness experts believe chronological age to be an incomplete figure because it does not consider other factors. Alternatively, biological age is the age at which your body functions as it compares to average fitness or health levels. We all age at different biological rates that are primarily based on genetics. However, physical fitness, nutrition, sleep, and exposure to various environmental conditions play a vital role in the aging process. Biological age determines our health and ultimately the lifespan of an individual.
There is broad biological variation among older adults of similar chronological age. This is why we see many older adults competing at a high level at the National Senior Games while other older adults of similar chronological age have difficulty with basic daily living activities. Consistent participation in a fitness program as offered by Ageility Physical Therapy Solutions has been shown to improve biological function while combating the aging process. A combination of strength, power, and endurance training in older adults seems to be the most effective strategy to counteract declines in muscle mass, strength, cardiorespiratory fitness, neuromuscular function, and functional capacity. Fitness training also promotes the prevention and control of age related diseases. Declines in physical and cognitive function are expected with age. Fitness training combined with healthy nutrition habits are essentially the basis of known natural methods to improve overall health. As a result, individuals can move and feel as if they were younger due to their biological age being much lower than their chronological age states.
Fitness programs for older adults should include an individualized and progressive approach to maintain or improve physiological function and minimize the risk of injury regardless of age. However, training age is another variable to consider when exercising. Training age is the length of time an older adult has participated in a structured fitness program. Adaptations to exercise are influenced by training age, and the amount of improvement in any fitness related measure are affected by the adaptation that has already occurred. For example, an 80 year old with 2 years resistance training experience (training age of 2 years) may not achieve the same strength gains in a given amount of time as an 80 year old with no resistance training experience.
Individualization of the fitness-training program based on biological age, training age, and specific needs is imperative to achieving your goals. General recommendations by Ageility Physical Therapy Solutions are to work out consistently at least two to three times per week, per muscle group. Resistance training and cardiovascular training should both be included in the fitness program.