There’s no question as to the changes our bodies undergo as we see more birthdays. However, experiencing difficulty rising from a chair, climbing stairs, and a decline in walking speed may be less an inevitible fate of Father Time, and more in our control than we realize.
A 2017 study in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing showed that disability and loss of independence may be directly caused by physical inactivity. After age 30, a person can lose about 1-1.4% of muscle mass in legs with each year of aging, with increased rate of loss after age 60. That means that from age 30 to age 60, you can lose up to 42% of the muscle in your legs.
Decreased strength is also a strong risk factor for falls, well-known as a potential disaster in quality of life and risk of mortality in older adults. And women who are less active are even more at risk of decline in physical independence than men due to factors such as hormones, nutrition, and already less muscle than men to begin with. If that weren’t enough, less muscle also means a slower metabolism, contributing to gaining weight with getting older.
The good news is that living a life of poor mobility and increased effort for basic tasks does not have to be destiny, even if you are already experiencing difficulty. Studies show that not only is decreased strength and muscle mass preventable, it is also reversible in most cases.
The type of exercise that is responsible for these changes in muscle strength is resistance training. The resistance can be provided by weights, bands, or even your own body weight!
In 2019, the National Strength and Conditioning Association released their take on how necessary resistance training is to ward off losing precious independence. A link to a quick read about this research can be found below.
Physical therapists are trained to see where you stand in your functional mobility, and can perform validated physical tests to assess your strength, and predict your chances of falling. They can also build a safe strengthening program customized to meet your individual health needs. Physical therapists can also guide you into transitioning your strength maintenance program into a wellness center or gym.
If you are experiencing difficulty in your mobility, balance, or function and are ready to add quality to your quantity of years, contact us today to see how we can help to keep you at the top of your game.
Kimberlee A. Gretebeck, PhD, RN; LeAnn M. Sabatini, MSN, GNP-BC; David R. Black, PhD, MPH; Randall J. Gretebeck, PhD, RD, Physical Activity, Functional Ability, and Obesity in Older Adults: A Gender Difference. Journal of Gerontological Nursing. 2017;43(9):38-46. https://doi.org/10.3928/00989134-20170406-03
Fragala, Maren S.1; Cadore, Eduardo L.2; Dorgo, Sandor3; Izquierdo, Mikel4; Kraemer, William J.5; Peterson, Mark D.6; Ryan, Eric D.7 Position Statement From the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 8 - p 2019-2052. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003230
Janssen I, Heymsfield SB, Wang ZM, Ross R. Skeletal muscle mass and distribution in 468 men and women aged 18-88 yr. J Appl Physiol (1985) 89: 81–88, 2000.