Our bodies change as we get older, actually they are always in flux, causing the older generations to have different reasons for staying in shape than younger generations. Though physical fitness provides benefits at any age, the health perks physically fit older people enjoy are more notable. Researchers say you should remain as active as possible, without overexerting one’s self. In older adults, exercise helps you live a longer, healthier, and happier life.
Muscle loss is inevitable as we age. We can lose 3-8% of muscle mass per decade after the age of 30 by not being physically active. Another study showed 1% of leg strength annually can be lost. This muscle loss is called sarcopenia and it can contribute to loss of strength, falls, and mobility issues.
It can also lead to diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, even breathing issues.
Have you heard the old adage “use it or lose it”? Well when it comes to muscle, use it, lose it, or build it.
Losing muscle mass and strength in the aging process can lead to varying degrees of inability to perform daily activities, like walking, slower movements, and loss of balance.
So saying all this depressing stuff, what can be done to avoid muscle loss?
Nutrition and physical activity offer positive benefits to treating and preventing sarcopenia. Resistance and strength training work the best.
Walking and low intensity strength training were shown to reduce the risk of major mobility disability. Even just doing 20 minutes of physical activity 3x/week can show a huge reduction in disability risk. Physical therapists perform functional tests, like walking speed and time it takes to rise from a chair to assess muscle strength.
Exercise and nutrition are essential parts of a healthy lifestyle throughout one’s life, and as we age, our requirements are ever changing. Studies have also found that a higher protein intake, .45-1.1g of protein per pound of body weight, was associated with 30% lower risk of increasing weakness. Your muscles need protein to contract.
Here are some of the benefits of exercising later in life:
More exercise means more independence
Regular exercise promotes an increased ability to walk, bathe, cook, eat, dress, and use the bathroom independently.
Exercise improves balance
Regular exercise reduces the likelihood of falling by 23%, which is a much bigger deal as we age.
Regular exercise means more energy
Any amount of exercise promotes the release of endorphins, which are essential neurotransmitters linked to pain mitigation and a sense of well-being. Endorphins combat stress hormones, promote healthy sleep, and make you feel more lively and energetic.
Exercise helps prevent and counteract disease
Adopting a more active lifestyle can contribute to the prevention of heart disease, osteoporosis, depression, and diabetes.
Regular exercise improves brain function
A healthy body likely means a healthy mind, and those that exercise on a regular basis have improved cognitive health. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia by nearly 50%.
So what are the best exercises to promote a healthy lifestyle?
1. Resistance band workouts
3. Body weight workouts, like squats and planks
4. Dumbbell strength training
Did you know that at Wellness Rehabilitation Inc. we offer Pilates/strengthening classes and individual Pilates/strengthening sessions? These are taught by a specialized Physical Therapist who takes into consideration any medical complication or injury to develop a highly individualized program for you. Click here to schedule a call to discuss which option is best for you.
Not ready to go one on one in a session or show your face with others in a class setting, you can begin with 3 Pilates videos we created for you. Each one goes over different exercises in different levels of expertise. There are tips given for daily activities so you understand the importance of why we are doing these exercises. Each exercise is broken down so you understand what and how to recruit a certain muscle and what you should feel. There are also variations given for the exercise so you can choose which level challenge you feel ready for. Just click here to watch the short clips of each video and to purchase them.
My hope is that with this blog you have a better understanding of how to care for yourself and why exercise is so important to a healthy lifestyle. Today can be the start of a new you and we are here to help you on that journey!
To Your Health,