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Gymnastics at 86! Not just aging gracefully, but setting a new benchmark

Posted By Joanne Nova On November 11, 2012 @ 1:44 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

A feel-good video. She started gymnastics in her 50′s, and look what Johanna Quaas can do.

New research suggests the human body  contains remarkable plasticity.  It is constantly being rebuilt, and even weight training exercises help 90 year olds.

Quaas, below,  is redefining the art of aging gracefully.

Johanna Quaas, an 86-year-old who has just entered the record books as the world’s oldest gymnast.

Displaying astonishing balance, strength and flexibility, she performed routines on the floor and parallel bars that would put someone decades younger to shame.

I’ve been teaching exercise to seniors for four years now, and while those who attend my classes cannot begin to compare with the octogenarian gymnast – let’s face it, I can’t and I’m 50 years her junior – they are certainly proving that it’s never too late to start exercising.

Some estimates suggest that as much as half of the physical decline associated with old age may be due to a lack of activity. As we grow older, our health and fitness levels begin to decline. The cardiovascular and respiratory systems suffer age-related deterioration, leading to high blood pressure and reduced cardio function. Balance and co-ordination can become impaired as we age, with falls being the leading cause of injury-related hospitalisation among the over 65s.

In addition, bone density decreases markedly after the age of 50, with an estimated one in two women and one in five men over 50 suffering a bone fracture from osteoporosis. Sarcopenia, or muscle wasting, affects about 20 per cent of the population aged between 50 and 70, with the figure rising to 50 per cent of those over 80. Unchecked, it leads to a reduction in muscle strength and functionality, and can ultimately result in the sufferer becoming house-bound.

Johanna Quaas didn’t take up competitive gymnastics until she was in her 50s, but watching her cartwheel and perform handstands it’s difficult to believe.

Christen Pears is a personal trainer and Pilates instructor in Western Australia

Full story (possibly paywalled)


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