Lo sport: elixir of life for everyone and at all ages. Bad women practice it less than men. The gender gap increases significantly over the years. And there are many reasons: the burden of family and work commitments and a cultural legacy that is hard to die. This and much more at the heart of the 67th National Congress of the Italian Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics (Sigg) in which there was above all talk of longevity declined for women.
Exceptional testimonial at the opening of the national summit, the cross-country skier Manuela Di Centathe fencer Franciscan Elisathe walker Antonella Palmisanoe Silvia Salis, hammer shooter and vicar vice president of Coni. Four great Olympic champions from whom an appeal to promote physical activity among women, especially among the elderly, has started.
The picture provided by the experts, in fact, is bleak. A over 65 out of three it moves less Of the recommended 150 minutes a week, one in five doesn’t exercise even 30 minutes a week. Women over 75 are 30% less likely to be active than their male peers: the idea of not being ‘sporty types’ is more widespread among women, twice as much as men, and this holds back many from ‘engage in exercise.
But what is meant by physical activity?
Two and a half hours of moderate physical activity per week reduce by 30% mortality in women over 65. “Physical activity aimed at protecting against brain and cardiovascular diseases is mild to moderate – Andrea Ungar makes it clear -. This means brisk walking, light jogging, tennis. 40 minutes every day would be enough, or otherwise 3 or 4 times a week”. The data show that men over 65 are more engaged in leisure activities, while women in housework or care of a loved one. “Among sports activities, jogging, walking at a fast pace, tennis and dancing are preferred – says the geriatrician – It has been shown that women have less time for themselves: they take care of the house, the family, the grandchildren. In addition, they participate less in sports activities from a younger age. Physical activity for the over 65 year old must be considered as social health activity. Because practicing sports clubs also means socializing that lengthens life and reduces loneliness”.
The Cophenhagen City Heart Study followed over 8,500 men and women for 25 years and discovered the benefits of various sports. It has been found that tennis extends life by almost ten years, cycling by almost 4 years and swimming and running by more than 3. “There is certainly a beneficial aspect of sport on cardiovascular risk factors but there is also a remarkable social aspect. A sedentary lifestyle leads to isolation” comments the expert.
A mix of Vitamin C and arginine to rejuvenate muscles
Furthermore, during the congress, the results of a study were presented which pave the way for thesupplementation of Arginine and Vitamin C to rejuvenate the muscles. “It was a study designed for the elderly with long covid that can also make sense for the frail elderly with sarcopenia. Arginine and Vitamin C have a synergistic activity in increasing the synthesis of nitric oxide synthase with a significant effect on muscle mass that becomes younger and regenerates itself more”. Epidemiological studies indicate that from the age of 45, in fact, there is a loss of muscle strength equal to 8% every 10 years. Between the ages of 50 and 70, on the other hand, the loss of muscle strength ranges from 20 to 30%, progressing progressively up to a loss of 30% per decade after the age of 70. A rhythm of impoverishment of the muscular heritage which entails the halving by age 75 of age. However, something can be done. “Move around, eat well and from the age of 65 eat lots of protein – explains the new president -. Also through supplementation with products with a protein load and pre-packaged dehydrated products. In the future it could also be insects, but in Italy we are not ready yet”.
This is why women live longer
Despite this, ladies live longer: on average 5.5 years more than men, with a life expectancy that has increased by almost 4 years in the last 20 years. “That women live longer than men has been known since the end of the 19th century – explains Ungar, president-elect of Sigg, professor of geriatrics at the University of Florence and director of the geriatrics university unit of the Careggi University Hospital -. The most certain thing is that up to the age of 70 women have one lower mortality and incidence for cardiovascular diseases, perhaps for hormonal protection and for the lesser habit of smoking. They also eat more fruit and vegetables.”
Widowhood is a risk factor only for men
An aspect not to be underestimated is also the social classification of women and greater resilience to widowhood. “Losing one’s wife increases the risk of male death, for almost all diseases, in particular for myocardial infarction, neoplasms and depression – explains Ungar -. The woman, on the other hand, survives the death of her husband peacefully because she is more independent and is able to look after herself better ”. In Western European countries such as Spain, France and Italy people live longer. While there is a reduction in life expectancy in Eastern European countries. This highlights the importance of social aspects as well as sanitary. “Life expectancy goes hand in hand with socio-economic development – Ungar makes clear -. On the other hand, the surge in life expectancy occurred with the industrial revolution”.
Liguria and Sardinia, silver regions
As for Italy, Liguria and Sardinia are the regions where you live longerclosely followed by Piedmont, Tuscany and Emilia. “In the first for a climate issue – continues the expert -, in the second instead there could perhaps be a motivation on a genetic basis”. Most women die from cerebrovascular disease, cardiovascular disease and dementia. Men for heart disease, lung and airway cancers. “For women, the major risk factors – says Ungar – are absolute hypertension and diabetes. Followed by anxious depressive syndromes”. Depression affects women far more than men. “My personal idea is that women face life more seriously – explains the geriatrician -. She hears much more the family burden, takes care of the affections in general and for this reason is more at risk of becoming burdened from a psychological point of view”. And this would perhaps also explain an interesting paradox. In fact, women are considered to be more fragile due to osteoarticular diseases, which however turn out to be much more dangerous factors in terms of mortality for men. Here too the habit of mental load, cross and delight for womenwould play a decisive role.