Keeping our strength: fighting the clock!

There’s no doubt about it; as you get older you naturally begin to lose your strength and your fitness.  Climbing the stairs becomes a little bit more difficult; that walk in the countryside is now becoming more challenging; your legs and knees start to remind you of the previous day’s exertions!  This is all normal and is something that you’ll accept if you want to continue to exercise and to enjoy the benefits derived from leading an active lifestyle.

“People who claim that they are too busy to find time to exercise now, will need to prepare to find time for poor health later in life!”

Exercise doesn’t just have physical benefits; it boosts our endorphin levels and this in turn improves our mood and mental health.  There are also many social benefits that are linked with getting out of the house to meet up with friends at a class or to go for a walk.

As’ time ticks on’, we start to lose muscle strength and with it our functional strength i.e. the ability to carry out our activities of daily living.  The condition sarcopenia, which is associated with muscle loss, is a common condition that can affect 10% of adults over the age of 50.  After middle age, adults with sarcopenia lose on average 3% of their muscle strength every year and as a result sarcopenia can decrease both life expectancy and quality of life.  However, the good news is that there are actions that you can take to prevent and even to reverse the condition.

Having a healthy diet and taking regular exercise can reverse sarcopenia.  Furthermore, combining aerobic exercise and resistance training gives the fight a real boost.  Below are 3 things that you can do that are simple to achieve and relatively cost-free.

Resistance Training

You don’t have to buy expensive equipment or pay expensive gym membership fees to perform resistance training.  Using your body weight against gravity (e.g. doing squats or press ups) or using a resistance band to pull or push against will strengthen muscles and improve function.

Fitness Training

Sustained exercise that raises your heart rate can also control sarcopenia.  Combining fitness training with resistance and flexibility training is really effective and will further boost the fight against age-related muscle loss.

Walking

Walking can also prevent and even reverse sarcopenia and is an activity that most people can do for free wherever they live.

Summary

Sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass and strength, becomes more common with age and can decrease lifespan and quality of life.

Exercise is the most effective way to prevent and reverse sarcopenia.  Resistance exercises, including using resistance bands and doing body weight exercises such as push ups and squats, are particularly effective.