March 8, 2017 9:09 pm

Okanagan seniors urged to get active

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Many of us know that regular exercise is important but now research out of UBC Okanagan reveals that a daily dose of fitness can be life-changing for seniors.

“Exercise is the key medicine that many older people should take so they keep themselves physically independent,” Dr. Gareth Jones said.

Jones is the lead researcher on the topic with the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna.

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“My research is really about reversing frailty,” Jones said. “Frailty is the physiological decline many people experience as you get older.”

The research has found that a daily dose of exercise between 30 and 60 minutes can have a significant impact of preventing or pushing back a person becoming frail.

Jones has been researching the topic for years and says there has been plenty of evidence that demonstrates the life-changing benefits of being active on a daily basis.

“We did a study about 10 years ago — longitudinal study so we followed people, 10 years later we brought them back to the lab — and it showed the fittest people remained independent over 10 years, the least fit people all became dependent and went into nursing homes,” Jones said.

When it comes to getting enough exercise, the numbers don’t paint a healthy picture. Researchers say only 11 per cent of Canadians over the age of 65 are meeting the minimum standards for physical activity. Technological advancements may be partly to blame.

“Technology allows us to be more mobile,” Jones said. “In some cases, if you allow a person with osteoarthritis to be mobile, we develop a scooter for them to travel around on so the problem with that is they stop walking and lose that function.”

Jones will reveal the latest research from his lab as part of Okanagan College’s Science in Society Speaker Series. The public talk entitled ‘Is Exercise the Medicine for Successful Aging?’ takes place on Thursday, Mar. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the College’s Vernon campus lecture theatre. Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance and $10 at the door. For advanced tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at 250-545-3644.

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