seniors

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Essential exercise to combat arthritis

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Arthritic pain leads to decreased activity, decreased range of motion, and accelerated loss of muscle (rheumatoid cachexia). This leads to lower energy levels and an increased likelihood of injury. Serious injuries from falling will lead to a life cut short with a greatly diminished quality of life. This decrease in activity also leads to an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease.

It doesn’t have to be that way. According to this Arthritis Foundation article, Strength Training is Essential for Arthritis, strength training will: reduce pain, increase range of motion, burn calories, and boost bone density. The catch is finding the type exercise that will strengthen muscles and not exacerbate pain.

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Do not go gentle into that good night...

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...Old age should burn and rave at close of day. 

The gentle way is not so gentle:

Gentle inactivity leads to > weakness leads to > slower gait speed > decreased balance > decreased energy levels > decreased resistance to injury and illness > increased probability of a fall and serious injury with a grave outcome as a result - a life cut short with a greatly diminished quality of life.

To burn and rave at the close of day:

Increasing strength leads to > increased gait speed > increased balance > stronger muscles and bones > increased endurance and energy levels > increased resistance to illness and injury > decreased likelihood of falling and a greater probability of surviving a fall unscathed - a significantly higher quality of life for far longer in later years.

Generally people are not placed in senior care for being out of breath; it is usually because they are too weak to carry out daily activities safely.

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Senior golfer ready to hang up clubs, now plays 18 holes a day

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After nine holes of golf Marcel was too tired to play the back nine. The next day he was too tired to go out on the course again. At 72 years of age he was nearing the age to hang up his clubs. He began strength training once a week for 30 minutes. A year later he could play 18 holes one day, and the very next day he could play 18 more.

He was stronger, less prone to injury, and he had more energy. No, not just a feeling like he had more energy, he actually had more strength and energy - the science to back it up.  Armed with those results he could play 27 more holes of golf. Those additional 27 holes contributed positively to his health as well. Marcel loved to play golf; he was doing it more, enjoying it more, and he was hitting the ball farther.

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174% strength increase for nonagenarians after 8 weeks of high intensity training

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From this study, High-intensity strength training in nonagenarians. Effects on skeletal muscle, the results for nine 90+ year old institutionalized volunteers after eight weeks of high intensity strength training:

  • Strength gains averaged 174%
  • mid-thigh muscle area increased 9.0%  
  • gait speed improved 48%  

 

The study concludes that high-resistance weight training leads to significant gains in muscle strength, size, and functional mobility among frail residents of nursing homes up to 96 years of age.

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Got Sarcopenia? If you are over forty you have it

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The term sarcopenia has not been in common usage for very long (see graph), but the condition has been around forever.  Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle tissue that occurs as a natural part of the aging process. According to this article, Why You're Aging Ungracefully, there are two things we can do to help maintain our muscle as we age - lift weights and eat high-quality protein.

A quote from the article:

Sarcopenia begins naturally in the 4th and 5th decades of life, making your 40s and 50s an ideal time to increase dietary protein and weight training, but even those in their 60s and beyond can benefit."

Another quote:

"The stronger you are, the more muscle you have, the less likely you are to become sick or die."  

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Strength training study shows seniors improving far more than younger set

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Two groups of men and women strength trained for six months. One group was older and the other younger. At the start of the study the older group was 59% weaker than the younger group. After six months the older adults were only 38% weaker than younger adults. Both groups improved, but the older group improved much more. 

From this study Resistance Exercise Reverses Aging in Human Skeletal Muscle

“We conclude that healthy older adults show evidence of mitochondrial impairment and muscle weakness, but that this can be partially reversed at the phenotypic level, and substantially reversed at the transcriptome level, following six months of resistance exercise training”.

Mitochondria, found in most cells, is where respiration and energy production takes place. Six months of strength training partially reversed mitochondria impairments to a level consistent with a younger stage in life. It is like having a fountain of youth.

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