A recent study of participants at the 2015 National Senior Games revealed that the typical participant had a fitness age much younger than their actual age. While many seniors feel that they are too old to exercise, the secret to longevity might actually lie in embracing an active life.
(Tampa Bay, FL) August 12, 2015—A recent study of participants in the 2015 National Senior Games, also known as the Senior Olympics, revealed that the typical participant had a fitness age 20 years or more younger than their chronological age. (1) Fitness age, which was developed by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, is determined by a measure of cardiovascular endurance and is a better predictor of longevity than chronological age. (2) Robert Drapkin, M.D., board-certified physician in Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology and Palliative Care, states that this is strong evidence that aging does not necessarily mean a deteriorating quality of life.
Out of the 5,000 participants at this year’s Senior Olympics, 4,200 participants agreed to complete an online fitness age calculator. The average athlete’s chronological age was 68; however, the calculator found that the average fitness age was 43, or 25 years younger than the actual age. The results were not affected by gender, with both male and female athletes showing a much younger fitness age. Furthermore, a majority of participants in the Senior Olympics did not begin exercising or training regularly until they had reached middle age, and in some cases, older. (1)
“This further disproves the myth that growing older means being forced to give up an active lifestyle,” says Drapkin. “Older athletes can be much younger, physically, than they are in real life.” Dr. Drapkin encourages the elderly to get out and get moving even if they haven’t been physically active before. “You’re never too old to start living a physically active lifestyle.”
The average lifespan in the United States now ranges from 66.1 to 81.6 years for men, and 73.5 to 86 years for women. (3) Dr. Drapkin says that lack of physical activity in the elderly plays a factor in longevity. Avoiding the diseases and chronic conditions tied to unhealthy lifestyles can significantly reduce individual expenditures on healthcare, and prevent premature deaths from smoking, obesity and alcohol.
“Concerns about injuries and ongoing health problems might discourage the elderly from engaging in physical fitness; however, these are all reasons why the elderly should participate in the activity,” says Dr. Drapkin.
Per Dr. Drapkin, exercise reduces the impact of ongoing health problems, including heart and blood pressure issues. Additionally, exercise helps improve strength and flexibility, which can reduce the risk of falls and injuries in the elderly.
Inspired by his own unhealthy habits and the patients he treated, Dr. Drapkin began his bodybuilding career at the age of 50. Now, at 70, Dr. Drapkin is an active world-class bodybuilder. Dr. Drapkin’s mission as a competitive athlete is two-fold: to improve his quality of life as he grows older; and to debunk myths regarding elderly fitness through example. Dr. Drapkin recently competed and took first place in the NPC Orlando Mid Florida Masters in June, 2015, and more recently took second place in the nation at the NPC Nationals Masters Men over 70.
Dr. Drapkin has placed in the top five in six of the last seven shows in which he has participated, dating back to 2009. In 2011, Dr. Drapkin won the 2011 NPC Southern States Maria Bellando and Manuel Mair Championships. He has also won the 2014 Southeastern Competition Men Over 70 Years, the 2008 Tampa Classic Open Men Bantam Weight, the 2005 Southern States Competition Men Over 60 Years, and the 2004 Tampa Classic Men Over 50 Years.
In addition to Dr. Drapkin’s traditional medical training and practice, he has decades of experience, research and study in the fields of diet and exercise that have proven very beneficial in helping patients treat and prevent an array of medical conditions, and has helped many to lead happier, healthier and more active lives.
About Dr. Robert Drapkin, M.D., F.A.C.P.:
Robert Drapkin, M.D., is a healthcare provider who is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology and Palliative Care. He is in active practice, working to save lives and improve quality of life through the education of his patients. He provides up-to-date knowledge and guides his patients through their illnesses, exercises and diets. He has been in active medicine practice for over 36 years. Dr. Drapkin is currently 70 years old, and started training as a body builder when he was in his fifties. He has been a competitive body builder for 17 years, and has won many titles and contests. He is currently in training for a second attempt to win the national event in July, 2016. For more information, visit http://drrobertmdfacp.com/.
- Reynolds, Gretchen. “Older Athletes Have Strikingly Young Fitness Age”; New York Times; July 1, 2015. blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/01/older-athletes-have-a-strikingly-young-fitness-age/?_r=0.
- Reynolds, Gretchen. “What’s Your Fitness Age?”; New York Times; October 15, 2014. well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/10/15/whats-your-fitness-age/.
- Dybuncio, Monica. “Women Lag behind Men in Life Expectancy Gains: Study.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 20 Apr. 2012. Web. 12 Aug. 2015. cbsnews.com/news/women-lag-behind-men-in-life-expectancy-gains-study/.
Karla Jo Helms
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