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Strong and Healthy Seniors

The age-related loss of muscle is termed sarcopenia, and it is to blame for a loss of mobility, independence, quality of life, and an increase in risk of falls and need for health care.

Over 10% of people in their 60s have sarcopenia, and more than 50% of people in their 80s.

Loss of muscle mass occurs even in healthy people. Our peak muscle mass is generally between the ages of 20 and 30 years, and reduces by around 1% each year thereafter. This rate of loss is accelerated following age 50 and also in women following menopause. The cause of this is multifactorial, including changes in physiology as we age and some chronic diseases. But a particular culprit is a sedentary lifestyle. Many strategies have been experimented with to combat sarcopenia, including various hormone therapies. However, exercise has proven to maintain and increase muscle mass time and time again.

It is never too late to become physically active. Would you believe improvements in health have been shown in people who started exercise at age 85? Increases in muscle size and strength of 90 year olds has been shown with eight weeks of exercise training. The physiological changes in older adults who exercise are similar to the changes in younger adults. Yes, the gains are not as large but changes in muscle size, fitness, cardiac health and life expectancy still occur. Regular physical activity increases life expectancy by reducing chronic disease and improving frailty (or function), not to mention improves mental health and is an opportunity for social support.

Exercise reduces the likelihood of falls and falls-related injuries. More than one third of older adults in the community fall each year, and 10% of these result in serious injury. Resistance exercise, or strength training, is key for preventing falls. It also has positive effects on bone mineral density, muscle and tendon strength, as well as chronic diseases. The effectiveness of resistance exercise is dependent on the frequency and type of exercise, so an appropriate program is crucial. Proper technique is also important. Our Exercise Physiologists provide a variety of services to assist older adults to start exercising. This includes individual supervised sessions, as well as over 55s circuit classes. These are all held in our new rehab gym, and you are welcome to view it any time. Simply phone for further information – 92844405.

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