Ageing Well: Size does matter

Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh, John Sutton Chair of Exercise and Sport Science, the University of Sydney

With special guest Mr Ray Moon, Victorian and Australian Bodybuilding Champion

Co-presented with The Faculty of Health Sciences

19 June

Ask a child to tell you what an old person looks like and they will likely describe a bent posture, spindly arms and legs, shuffling gait, inability to lift or carry anything heavy, painful joints, and perhaps a saddened face.

What they perceive are the common changes in ageing body composition often associated with difficulties in mobility and function, pain, and poor quality of life. But is this loss of skeletal muscle (sarcopenia) and increase in fat mass we associate with ageing inevitable? When is it too late to intervene if this has already happened to you or your loved one?

Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh

Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh is a geriatrician who has spent 25 years undertaking clinical and research work in the field of exercise, nutrition, body composition and ageing. In particular, her focus has been on weight lifting exercise as an antidote to the age-related loss of muscle mass and function that dominates the picture of old age for so many. She has shown that muscle continues to respond robustly to this specific type of exercise training, even in the tenth decade of life. This lecture will describe the benefits and feasibility of weight lifting exercise for fit and frail individuals, no matter what their chronological age.

Mr Ray Moon has had polio, open-heart surgery, suffered a cardiac arrest and was once pronounced clinically dead. He has had a pacemaker fitted, suffered a twisted bowel, two minor strokes, a hernia and prostate problems, but instead of giving up he hit the gym at the age of 76. In the last seven years Mr Moon has become a champion body builder and holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest bodybuilder.

Despite his health challenges, 84 year old Ray now has the body of a man half his age – and muscles most men wish they had. He has taken out four Victorian and Australian bodybuilding championships in the over-70’s division.