Exercise and Nutrition for Middle-Age and Older Individuals: Dr. Stella Volpe (Transcript)

Full text of nutritionist and exercise physiologist Dr. Stella Volpe’s talk: “Exercise and nutrition for middle-age and older individuals” at TEDxSJU conference. In this talk, Dr. Volpe points out that it is never too late to start becoming an active and healthy individual. We just need to face that fact that exercise and eating habits are the best of attaining that.


Dr. Stella Volpe – Nutritionist and exercise physiologist

Hello everyone. It’s a real honor to be here at Saint Joseph’s University as part of the TEDx conference. So today my talk is a little bit different than Dean’s but it still has to do with nutrition and exercise. And basically it’s going to focus on nutrition and exercise in the older adult.

But some of the things I’ll talk to you about will apply to everyone in this room.

So with aging… and all of us are aging, that’s one thing we can’t actually stop… is there are things that are negative and positive that occur in our bodies and both play… both nutrition and exercise play a key role in preventing some of the things that aging… you know that occur with aging.

And one thing I’d like to make sure I say is that aging is not a disease. So so often people say well I’m older now and I can’t do this or that. And I really like to say that I think it’s because maybe they got old too fast. So we shouldn’t be stopping doing things just because we’re getting older.

And I’m still a competitive athlete in several sports and I’m not up here to talk about that. But one of the newest sports I brought into my life was just four years ago and that’s playing ice hockey.

So just so you know it’s OK to keep trying new things because that gets us cognitively challenging and also physically challenging.

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So some of the things I first like to talk about are the changes that happen both in fitness and the metabolic profile, before I go on to just a couple of studies that we conducted in our lab with individuals of an older age.

And so with older individuals who exercise, the good news is is that exercise can help stave off some of the negative impacts of aging. So unfortunately, at the age of 40 or so that some of the things that happen there just is called sarcopenia where we start to lose some muscle mass. But we can prevent that if we continue to exercise both in strength training as well as aerobic training.

And some of the… you know if you continue to exercise as you get older, yes you might lose about 10% of what’s called your VO2 max or that’s the measure of aerobic fitness, a maximal oxygen consumption. But you can decrease that if you continue to exercise.

Some evidence, also maintaining habitual physical activity can decrease disease. And something else just add, I’m talking about exercise here in planned exercise. But activities of daily living also count. So taking the stairs instead of the elevator is really an important part of what we can do.

As a matter of fact, couple of studies show that if they asked people in their office building just to take the stairs and asked half of them just to continue using the elevator, that’s the only thing they changed in their lives, that those who took the stairs improved their aerobic fitness significantly compared to those who did not.

So even in my office building when I go up 12 flights, people like you’re not taking the elevator, I said well as long as my legs work I will continue to use them.

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So some of the things that change too with older exercisers they typically have the same type of profile as people as younger counterparts as people in their 20s and 30s. And when I say older that can be defined very differently but from about the age of 40 on.

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