Eating to Get the Most Out of Exercise

Eating to Get the Most Out of Exercise

The impact of exercise on aging has been a focus of research in recent years. According to one study, aerobic physical activity has the ability “to improve sleep quality, mood and quality of life in older adults with chronic insomnia” (Reid et al., 2010). This is just one of many findings that support the positive influence of physical activity on health – at all ages.

It is extremely beneficial to stay physically active as we age, and what we eat to fuel our bodies is just as important as the exercise itself.  One JAMA study found an association between decline in physical function and low levels of dietary vitamin E in older adults. Of upmost importance is ensuring that we consume enough calories to support our activity level. Ideally, 30 grams of protein should be consumed at every meal of the day because sufficient amounts of protein are necessary to build muscle and strength.


Not only does physical activity improve functioning and prevent disability, it also increases and preserves skeletal muscle mass. Specifically, progressive resistance training (PRT) has been shown in both animals and humans to reverse losses of both muscle (sarcopenia) and bone mass (osteopenia). Regular exercise has the ability to both alter body composition and partially offset adverse body composition changes associated with aging.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that older adults:

1. Do moderately intense aerobic exercise for 30 minutes a day, five days a week


Do vigorously intense aerobic exercise for 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week

2. Do 8-10 strength-training exercising, 10-15 repetitions of each twice times per week

3. Perform balance exercises

  1. Have a physical activity plan

Here’s a great handout about exercising: Exercise and Physical Activity-Getting Fit for Life

Guest Blogger:  Brenna Keane


Referenced: “Findings suggest link between vitamin E and subsequent decline in physical function for older adults,” response article to JAMA. 2008; 299[3]:308-315. Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia. Reid et al. Sleep Medicine. 2010; 11: 934-940. Nutrition for the Older Adult. Bernstein and Luggen.




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