Why is it so important to exercise as I get older? Part 2

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3 women exercising with blue weights

As we age our body undergoes many changes, but these changes are not always inevitable and some of them are even reversible!

Loss of muscle bulk and strength is part of the ageing process. After the age of 30 you start to lose muscle mass at the rate of about 3 to 5% per decade. By the age of 80 the average person will have 25 % less muscle bulk. This results in weakness and frailty and sometimes loss of independence. Loss of muscle mass (or sarcopenia) is also associated with:

  • Greater difficulty in doing every day activities such as going up and down stairs, getting up from low chairs, lifting shopping bags etc.
  • Less mobility
  • Higher risk of falls
  • Higher risk of hospital admissions
  • Decreased bone strength
  • Reduced metabolic rate which can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and type 2 diabetes

The good news is you can regain muscle mass and strength and improve your quality of life at any age!

The main treatment for loss of muscle strength is exercise – specifically resistance exercises or weight training. The other good news is it is never too late to start. A recent study found that residents in a nursing home, whose average age was 90 years, were able to double their strength and increase their muscle size by lifting weights. They even found changes in the muscle of a man aged 100 years. Additionally, the residents also improved their gait, balance and cognitive function.

At Bellbird Sports and Spinal we offer rehabilitation classes for older adults. In these classes we use springs, free weights and body weight to strengthen muscles. Click here for more information on my ‘Spring into Action’ Classes.

If classes aren’t for you, your physiotherapist can design an individual program for you to do at home – Book with one of us today!

Written by Kathy Brooks

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