For­get that rocking chair

Life & Style Weekend - - YOU - WELL­NESS With Hamish McMichael Visit Hamish at Kaizen Ex­er­cise Phys­i­ol­o­gists, 2/47 Sixth Ave, Ma­roochy­dore or phone 5479 3411 and get your well­ness on track.

WHAT changes in our bod­ies should we ex­pect with “nor­mal” age­ing? Are th­ese changes re­versible – or able to be kept from oc­cur­ring?

Re­search sug­gests that one of the largest prob­lems fac­ing the older adult is loss of muscle mass (sar­cope­nia). This par­tic­u­larly af­fects older women, but males show sim­i­lar losses. A loss in muscle mass also causes a loss in strength. This loss in strength can be se­vere. One study re­ported that 40% of women aged 55-64 year, and a stag­ger­ing 65% of 75-84 year olds didn’t have the strength to lift a 4.5kg weight! Play­ing with your grand­chil­dren, trav­el­ling with a suit­case, and do­ing gro­cery shop­ping won’t be a re­al­ity for th­ese folks. Many older peo­ple are so weak they don’t have the strength to lower them­selves into or get up out of a chair or walk up stairs.

Falls and frac­tures are com­mon – th­ese can be se­ri­ous, and even fa­tal in un­well, in­ac­tive older peo­ple. What causes sar­cope­nia? Sim­ple – the use it or you’ll lose it prin­ci­ple tells all. In West­ern so­ci­eties we seem to cher­ish the idea of grace­ful age­ing. Tak­ing a well-earned rest and re­lax­ing in re­tire­ment is fine – but do it in be­tween ac­tiv­i­ties and strength train­ing.

A lack of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and too much time in the rocking chair causes the loss in strength with age­ing. This in turn makes it harder for peo­ple to be ac­tive lead­ing to fur­ther strength losses. What we end up with is a vi­cious nasty down­ward spi­ral that leaves pop and gran un­able to use their bod­ies to do nor­mal life ac­tiv­i­ties with ease. How can we re­verse this down­ward spi­ral?

Easy – get ac­tive and get strength train­ing.

The foun­tain of youth is at your lo­cal gym

STRENGTH train­ing is su­perb for main­tain­ing muscle mass – keep­ing sar­cope­nia from the door. Muscle is the tis­sue that burns most of the calo­ries we con­sume – so ex­pect to lose some weight, look and feel bet­ter once you start weight train­ing. Bones also get stronger in re­sponse to weight train­ing – this re­duces the risks of se­ri­ous in­juries like hip frac­tures from falls. (See the next sec­tion for key ex­er­cises). Strength train­ing does make a dif­fer­ence – and it’s big. Stud­ies have re­ported 200-300% gains in strength with 3-4 months of strength train­ing. Th­ese gains are far greater than younger adults you ex­pect to achieve. Like­wise, gains of 10-30% in aer­o­bic fit­ness have re­ported with car­dio­vas­cu­lar train­ing pro­grammes in older pop­u­la­tions.

Key ex­er­cises for the older pop­u­la­tion

Lunges – es­pe­cially multi-di­rec­tional lunges (lung­ing at dif­fer­ent an­gles)

Th­ese help with leg strength and bal­ance

An es­sen­tial ex­er­cise to re­duce the risk of in­jury from fall­ing Squats

The “king” of leg strength ex­er­cises Aids in bal­ance and flex­i­bil­ity

Never get stuck in your arm­chair again Over­head push­ing and pulling ex­er­cises

Th­ese may need to be paired up with ex­er­cises/stretches that help straighten out the up­per back and stretch around the shoul­ders

Peo­ple of­ten for­get th­ese move­ments but life ex­ists above head height Spe­cific core strength­en­ing and bal­ance ex­er­cises

The ab­dom­i­nal area has a vi­tal role to play in move­ment. In­con­ti­nence is a mas­sive prob­lem for the older pop­u­la­tion – spe­cific ab­dom­i­nal train­ing may be re­quired here.

Bal­ance work to re­duce the risk of falls is also high on our pri­or­ity list. Up­per body weights

Aim for in­creas­ing muscle mass in th­ese ar­eas – don’t worry you won’t bulk up too much. Big push­ing and pulling ex­er­cises are ideal. To con­clude, ag­ing is a nat­u­ral process, but be­ing ill or in­jured from ex­treme in­ac­tiv­ity and muscle weak­ness is not.

The older body can show huge im­prove­ments in strength and fit­ness with weight train­ing and aer­o­bic ac­tiv­ity.

By be­ing ac­tive and weight train­ing you will ex­tend your qual­ity of life and be able to move around trou­ble free for longer.

If you’re look­ing to rewind the clock on age­ing please give me a call on (07) 54793411 – Hamish (Kaizen Ex­er­cise Phys­i­ol­o­gist)

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

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