Physical exercise is something that has become as important as drugs in treating diseases such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. No wonder, it is estimated that the frequency of people over 60 years in the gyms has increased about six times in the last ten years.
An eye on this vein, many businesses have formed partnerships with doctors and offered special discounts and activities for older people referred by them. Appeared to specialize in public gyms, with their own medical staff and facilities suited to those with reduced mobility (more information on this page).
The boom began after proof, in the beginning of the last decade, that exercise overload are able to prevent the advance of osteoporosis, says Kleber Pereira, president of the Association of Academies (Acad). "The doctors started to recommend weight training for seniors, who now represent nearly 30% of our students."
Recent studies have demonstrated the benefits of weight training to another problem that affects nearly 60% of people over 60 years with osteoarthritis. Characterized by wear of the joints, the disease causes pain and restricts movement.
Myths. "Until recently, patients with osteoarthritis were given the recommendation to do only light activities and avoid heavy lifting or climbing stairs," says Julia Greve, coordinator of the Laboratory of Movement Studies (LEM), Faculty of Medicine of USP.
But today we know that strengthening the muscles reduces the load on joints, reduces pain and restores range of motion.
Another myth that has been overthrown by a survey conducted in the LEM is that the elderly do not respond as well to exercise as younger people.
The team coordinated by Julia followed three groups of women over 13 weeks of strength training. The first was composed of elderly with osteoarthritis in both knees that had undergone surgery for placement of a prosthesis in them. The second was no older joint problems and the third, healthy young adults.
Four questions were evaluated before and after 13 weeks: the distance walked in 6 minutes, the speed with which they climbed a flight of stairs, the time it takes to stand up and sit in a chair and the time to get up from a lying position. All in all, the group of women with joint problems was the most evolved. Also this group was the most able to increase the overhead during the study period and improve balance.
The story of Antonio Carlos retired Amabile, 72, is proof that, regardless of age and the initial condition, you can always improve with physical activity. In 1999, he had to undergo surgery to remove the femoral head because of an abscess. "The doctors thought it best not to put the prosthesis because of diabetes. They were afraid of rejection," he says. After two years of physical therapy, he had the backing of the team to weight training.
"In the beginning, came to the academy of a walker and had to do the exercises without weight. Gradually I recovered everything. Today I go up and down stairs with ease. I am independent, it has yet to use a cane."
Amabile feels at home in middle marombeiros girls and thick thighs. It is so popular among colleagues who became the poster boy network of academies Level A. "The social part is important. Let us stimulated. I miss when they come."
Kokichi Takano, 76, is another who has already incorporated in the workout routine. Four times a week, he devotes two hours to engage in weight training, stretching and treadmill. On weekends, go to Ibirapuera Park walk. "I started training regularly for 70 years. He suffered from arthritis and had severe pain in the sciatic nerve. Now do not feel anything anymore," he says.
Ideal training. Fabio Jennings, rheumatology and sports medicine specialist at the Federal University of Sao Paulo, says that the ideal training for the elderly should include aerobics, to help control body weight, muscle strengthening and stretching to improve flexibility. "It is also important to add activities that work balance. This decreases the risk of falls and consequently fractures."
Not always, however, people with joint problems can achieve this goal at the outset. "Often just get through the gym and then the pain decreases, we enter with walking and stretching exercises," says physical education teacher Emmanuel Gomes Ciolac.
The secret of physical activity in patients with health problems is knowing what to do, how to, with which load and intensity, says Julia Greve. "It's an individualized prescription. Because of a drug."