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Introduction to successful aging [ 时间:2010/4/26 ]

 

Introduction to successful aging

You can change how you think, feel and act when you are older simply by changing how you think, feel and act now, geriatrics experts say. Staying healthy, fit and active are the keys to successful aging.

Dr. Judy Salerno, deputy director of NIH's National Institute on Aging (NIA), says, "When I entered the aging field many years ago, we didn't talk about disease prevention. We simply characterized normal aging. Now we are seeing that people can age successfully in good health well into old age. Disease and disability are not inevitable consequences of aging."

That is good news not only for individuals but also for communities and society in general. In the last two decades, census figures have shown that the world's vital statistics are changing. In the U.S., the proportion of older adults went from roughly four percent in 1900 to 13 percent today, and will increase to more than 20 percent by 2030.

In the recently ended Diabetes Prevention Program study, sponsored by NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and NIA with additional support by several other institutions, scientists found that moderate diet and exercise successfully delayed and possibly prevented participants from developing type 2 diabetes.

About 16 million people in the United States have diabetes , which is the main cause of kidney failure, limb amputations and new-onset blindness in adults, as well as a major cause of heart disease and stroke. Type 2 diabetes accounts for up to 95 percent of all diabetes cases.

"The most interesting aspect of the study in terms of aging was that diet and exercise worked better in those participants ages 60 and older," Dr. Salerno said. She noted that lifestyle changes prevented the disease at better rates than did the oral diabetes drug metformin, which was also tested during the program.

Even before the diabetes prevention trial results, NIA researchers had realized the health benefits of regular physical activity by older people. For more, please read the "Exercise for Seniors" article.

Regular exercise and physical activity are important to the health and abilities of older people, according to research studies conducted by NIA.

Dr. Pamela Peeke, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, cited research data at a "Successful Aging" seminar on the NIH campus showing that regular exercise - by people of any age - may improve daily functioning, strength, flexibility and endurance.

"Studies sponsored by NIA and other gerontology centers have found that people who have been normally sedentary and have lost a tremendous amount of muscle mass can recoup that very nicely and increase power and strength as well," she said, "even through their eighties and into their nineties."

 


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