As Gran-mon used to say, “it’s hell to get old” and for her it was. Due to lack of stability and lower body strength as well as osteoporosis, a fall caused a broken hip, which required hip replacement, And because of complications from diabetes her new hip never healed and she declined quickly, spending the last few years of her life bedridden and in constant pain. As the family watched Grandad struggle to care for her his health steadily declined and shortly after she passed, he followed. At the time we thought this was just an inevitable consequence of getting old. Yet Grandmom was only 72 when she passed away, hardly old by any stretch of the imagination! While this occurred many years ago it still saddens me to know that this could have been prevented. We now know that balance can be improved and muscles and bones can be made stronger with exercises specifically targeting these outcomes. We know infirmary and ensuing disability can be minimized or even prevented with lifestyle interventions.
“Weight training helps prevent fractures by strengthening the leg muscles, contributing to improved balance and decreasing the likelihood of falls, the cause of most fractures in the elderly.” Natures Cures by Michael Castleman.
Resistance training is proven to increase bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Resistance training will also improve lower body strength, balance and stability to lessen the risk of frailty, falls and fractures.
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.
Lower body weakness, difficulty with stability and balance and fear of falling are all major risk factors for falling -Fear of falling causes a person to cut back on their everyday activities, When a person is less active, they become weaker and unsteady on their feet which increases their chance of falling.
“Without resistance exercises to strengthen muscles and bones, most people face a midlife slide into flabbiness and its associated ills. And as we age, strength training becomes even more important to offset age-related declines in muscle and bone mass that can lead to frailty and fracture— the primary reason older adults wind up in nursing homes.” Healing Moves by Carol Krucoff and Mitchell Krucoff MD.
Even small increases in strength can make a big difference in our ability to carry out everyday tasks. Increases in lower body strength makes it easier to climb stairs and get up from a chair plus it improves balance and stability, while upper body strength assists with pulling open doors, pushing a vacuum cleaner, carrying groceries or a laundry basket full of clothes. And don’t forget, both upper and lower body strength as well as balance allows you to do the fun stuff, like push you grandkids on the swing, sign up for a travel tour, or dance with your granddaughter at her wedding.
We’ve all seen both sides of the coin, People who seem much older than their chronological age due to overall weakness instability and frailty. And others who despite their age have plenty of strength, stamina, stability and mobility for everything they want to do.
Which side of the coin are you on? Are you about to head out for another adventure, or do you find yourself in a tailspin with your strength and stability diminishing a bit more every day?
“Extensive research has shown that muscles and bones will get stronger in response to strength training regardless of your age. Some health experts call strength training “the closest we’ve come to a fountain of youth.” Healing Moves by Carol Krucoff and Mitchell Krucoff MD
Look Good. Feel Good. Live Better!