Sean Wilson

Sean is an Exercise Scientist from Queensland, Australia with Bachelor and Masters degrees and undertook PhD studies investigating the morphometric and functional changes induced by resistance training exercise in the ageing human body. He is accredited with Exercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA) and the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA).

He blogs at his website FitGreyStrong where he fuses theory, science and practical experience to produce contemporary articles and scientific reviews relevant to ageing, exercise, nutrition and health. Sean is also an active researcher with some of his work being recently published in the International Journal, Clinical Nutrition. FitGreyStrong has an international social media following of several thousand people and can be found via the username @FitGreyStrong on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and Tumblr.

He is strongly motivated to spread the word far and wide regarding the amazing benefits an active lifestyle has in the later years of life. His aim is to make a meaningful contribution to the “healthy” ageing discourse by promoting the latest research and science whilst simultaneously improving the lives of older adults by advancing clinical best practice in relation to exercise and nutrition. He formerly competed at an elite level in both athletics and as a track sprint cyclist, and is now most at home in the gym.

PRESENTATION: Why the “Strengthification” of Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers is the Greatest Health Challenge of the 21st Century.

Physical deterioration across the lifespan is an inevitable consequence of the human condition. On a global scale there will be more than 2 billion people aged over 60 yr by 2050. This massive change in demographics will pose significant challenges and have a profound impact on many aspects of life. Of the many things that occur during the ageing process, one of the most obvious signs is the loss of skeletal muscle mass otherwise known as sarcopenia.

Age-related morphometric decreases in muscle cross-sectional area are caused by atrophy of muscle fibres (primarily fast-twitch type-II) with conjecture continuing about whether muscle fibre loss plays any significant role. It is the accompanying dynapenic changes, where there is a disproportionate greater loss of strength and physical function relative to muscle mass, that is signficantly more sensitive in predicting predisposition to disability, poor health outcomes and risk of mortality.

Research published over the last 30 years clearly shows that dynapenia is not simply a function of age but more a consequence of lifestyle. Indeed, many people as they grow older display gross levels of sedentarism which accelerate the weakening process. In contrast, there is compelling data to argue that exercise known as resistance training can actually alter the trajectory of ageing and potentially reverse some of the sarcopenic and dynapenic alterations referred to herein.

A significant opportunity therefore exists for those exercise practitioners with scientific expertise in strength and conditioning to truly transform and improve the quality of life of many older people throughout the world. Public health reform is obviously required so that skeletal muscle strength/function is positioned at the centre of health care policy which will be vital to the future well-being of those people known as Generation X’ers and Baby Boomers. Practical examples of effective resistance training interventions and a case study of how such exercise kept one man on his feet will also be discussed.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

  • The loss of strength and atrophy of skeletal muscle mass is an inevitable consequence of the ageing process.
  • Sedentary lifestyles synergistically accelerate and worsen the age-related changes in muscle morphology and function.
  • Physical activity, particularly resistance training exercise, hold promise to actually alter the trajectory of ageing.
  • It is never too late to start with training adaptability shown to be robust up to 100 years of age.

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