For many older adults, growing older seems to involve an inevitable loss of strength, energy, vigor and mobility, but this need not be the case. The frailty and decreased energy we associate with aging, such as difficulty walking for distances, climbing stairs, or carrying groceries, are largely due to muscle loss. This muscle loss results mainly from inactivity. The old saying is true when it comes to muscle: “Use it or lose it.”
Everyone tells you walking is great for you and that's all you need to do. Yes, It is great for you, but let's think about that another way. Walking is one task - what about getting from a sit to stand position, the ability to roll over in bed, the ability to climb the stairs, reach the top shelf in the kitchen, unfortunately walking won't improve those tasks. What do we do when we can't reach the top shelf? We may get a stool to step up on or get somebody else to do it do! Another example is when we cant get out of a low chair. We use our hands to push us or pull us up, when previously all we had to do was use our legs. So, we adapt to the tasks at hand but never actually realise that we may be getting weaker, we never think what is happening to our bodies. If this sounds like you, it's time to start taking control of your body and not let your body control you.
You may be inactive or only mildly active at the moment. You may know that regular exercise is important for your health and well-being and you want to get started on a program of physical activity but you feel don’t have the necessary information on how to get started or what to do. Well, we are here to help.
The benefits of getting stronger.
Strength and mobility training is essential to start you on the journey to a better quality of life. It will help you:
Maintain bone density.
Improve balance, coordination and mobility.
Reduce your risk of falling.
Maintain independence in performing activities of daily life.
Strength and mobility training can also reduce the signs and symptoms of many diseases and chronic conditions in the following ways:
Arthritis—Reduces pain and stiffness, and increases strength and flexibility.
Diabetes—Improves glycemic control.
Osteoporosis—Builds bone density and reduces risk for falls.
Heart disease—Reduces cardiovascular risk by improving lipid profile and overall fitness.
Obesity—Increases metabolism, which helps burn more calories and helps with long-term weight control.
Back, hip, shoulder, neck and knee pain.
Here are some simple steps to get started:
DETERMINE IF STRENGTH TRAINING IS SAFE FOR YOU
It’s important to talk to your chartered physiotherapist before beginning any exercise program if you have health concerns. Chronic health conditions should not stop you from strength training. It’s likely that you will still be able to take part in a program if you have arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, congestive heart failure, or have recently suffered a heart attack.
FIND OUT HOW STRONG AND MOBILE YOU ARE NOW
A physiotherapist will be able to access you and find out where you are weak and stiff and tell you where and how you need to start.
STRENGTH TRAINING? WHERE DO I GO?
Believe it or not, you can do an awful lot at home. This is where your physiotherapist comes in. They can build a strengthening program based on what you have at home and the space you have. You certainly do not need to go to the gym. In saying that many gyms/ personal trainers/ Pilates instructors and Yoga instructors now run group classes for different age groups and mobility levels. Some people prefer to be involved in groups, some prefer to do it on their own, either way it is important to do it.
So remember strength and mobility training it’s only going to benefit you in the long run, you just need the right guidance !