Use it or Lose it... your muscle strength, your freedom, maybe even your life.
Three tests of strength that can help determine your life span
One of the primary reasons elderly people are institutionalized is a decline in physical function due to the loss of muscle strength. Recent studies have shown that three simple tests involving muscle strength can predict with astounding accuracy which middle aged adults are less likely to live a long and healthy life.
The following tests were done on a group of 1,355 men and 1,4111 women all aged 53. They were then analyzed ten years later (in 2012) at the age of 63. During that period 177 participants died.
The tests involved
Measuring grip strength with an electronic handgrip or dynamometer.
The average time it took to rise from a sitting to a standing position with a straight back and legs and then sit down again. ( it was an average of 10 complete times done as fast as possible)
The longest time, up to a maximum of 30 seconds, that one could maintain a one-legged stance in a standard position with their eyes closed.
Dr. Cooper and her colleagues evaluated the data and adjusted for variables such as lifestyle, health status and socioeconomic position among other things. Even after the adjustments those in the lowest 20% of physical capability were 3.5 times more likely to die than those in the highest 20%. Those who were unable to perform any of the tests had a death rate 12 times higher than those able to perform all three tests.
So basically muscle loss won't just get you institutionalized it also significantly increases your risk of dying earlier.
We all know we are supposed to exercise. However here are some of the excuses I hear (and some I have used myself) I don't have time, it's too cold, it's to hot, I'm too sore, my arthritis is acting up, I can't afford a gym membership, I don't have access to weights, I'm in such bad shape why bother, I'm too old.
Well it is literally never too late and if you are over 60 it is even more important that you do weight bearing exercise. So where do you start. The first thing is to get up and get moving. It's a bonus if you have access to weights and know how to use them properly. But it's not mandatory. You can use your body weight as well. Push ups, lunges , squats, bicep curls, arm raises with canned goods or water bottles all will work. Elastic bands are also a good starting point.
It's also important to increase your intake of protein if you are older. Research indicates older men may need as much as 40 grams of protein per meal versus 20 grams for younger men. Whey protein shakes are a great way to supplement your daily intake of quality protein.
How Does Massage fit Into all of This?
Massage can help loosen up those tight muscles before you exercise and help with muscle soreness after you start a program. Massage can also help keep your body in proper alignment. If your pelvis or neck is rotated and mis-aligned exercise could make matters worse and the pelvis and neck are two of the most common problem areas. I'll discuss these more in the next newsletter. For now get up and get moving. Remember that motion is lotion.