Fitter, Happier.

Fitter, Happier.

It is not news that exercise is healthy. It is on the media; public health sectors promote it and just about anyone who does some sport regularly feels good. But how tangible is this?

I was recently seeing this patient in clinic who was raving about how his knee pain was making him feel old and disabled. He had to pack up with his running, cycling and even skiing. Eyeballing him I would have given him sixty-three tops – but boy was I wrong. He had clocked seventy-five and was still going strong! Surely, part of it is genetic (and this is also true for the bad genetics – As I am sure we have all heard about the 35-year-old athlete with a family history of heart disease who kicks the bucket on the racetrack); but some of it is definitely driven by activity. It turns out that this chap had done a good seventy percent of his life out on the road running.

Coincidentally, I recently read a topical scientific article published by Ball state University, Muncie, Indiana. The investigators set out to study muscle samples of a group of the athletic and sedentary elderly muscles and how these correlated with a control group of young, fit, athletic muscle. Moreover, they evaluated how these muscles compared to the different physiological makeup of these set groups. With regards to muscle structure, when looked at under the microscope, these were almost indistinguishable between the young and old athletes; which in turn, were entirely different from the elderly untrained muscle. With regards to fitness as measured by aerobic function, the septuagenarian athletes had 40% more functional reserve than their inactive counterpart. This must, in return, lead to a better quality of life, more activity, and therefore less pain and disability. At the end of the day, if modern-day medicine is so successful to prolong life expectancy, we must strive to compliment this with a better quality of this extended time. Sports, started early enough in life, is the answer.

So there you have it. If you have ever wanted to be fitter, happier and more productive, like in Radiohead’s “OK, computer” track; you must train, as instructed by the great band itself, regularly at the gym. Who said that big muscle is not better than any quantity of brain?!

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