Strength & Conditioning for Seniors
Ageing is a natural progression that affects all living organisms on the planet.
In humans, there is a steady decline in the function of the human body as a result of ageing.
Therefore, any activity or process that augments or slows this process would not only be beneficial to an ageing person’s health but would also aid in something as fundamental as the individuals functional independence. In addition to improving the quality of life, activity improves self-esteem, mental alertness and social interaction and decreases levels of depression. Physical activity is also a major independent modifiable risk factor that has protective effect against the onset of cardiovascular disease, ischemic stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancers. Exercise that improves an ageing individual’s power is seen to be one of the most pivotal forms of exercise that improves an individual’s active daily living and increasing their ability to continue normal motor functional.
What Happens to Your Muscle and Skeletal System when we age??
Power declines in the elderly are seen to show the biggest decrements in performance, far more than strength. Not only this, the rate in which power declines far exceeds that of strength. This is primarily due to the rapid decline in type 2 muscle fibres (MHC IIa & MHC IIx) seen in the ageing population. Basically we have two main muscle types, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is slow activating fibre types and type 2 is fast. To put it into context, Usain Bolt would have primarily type 2 muscle fibres while a strong man would have primarily type 1. Therefore, this rapid decrease
in type 2 fibres means generally the elderly have more of an issue getting out of a chair rather than drinking a cup of tea. It has been shown by Skelton et al. (1994) that between the age of 65 and 90 yrs muscle strength is lost at a rate of 1-2% per year, whilst muscle explosive power is lost at a rate of 3-4% per year.
Having power in the upper and lower limbs in the self-dependent elderly is paramount to insure mobility well in to the advance stages of the ageing process. Known areas in mobility that cause problems for the elderly are performing physical tasks such as walking one-quarter mile, balance, climbing a flight of stairs or rising from a chair. These may seem like mundane everyday tasks but to the ageing population these serve to be quiet problematic. Therefore power is a critical component as power is needed to produce force and velocity of muscle contraction which are essential in the aforementioned mobility issues and any improvements that can be made will serve to aid and diminish decreases in active daily living.
The degeneration of bone density is also a process that is prevalent in the aging population. The degeneration
is typically referred to as Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis increases bone fragility and it is associated to a higher risk
of fracture (Marcus, 1996; Cooper, 1999; Kanis, 2005). In Europe, there are 3.8 million osteoporotic fractures
each year costing 32 billion Euro annually. Bone loss is typically 2-3% a year in men over 65, for women the figures are slightly different with an average of 5% decrease in bone loss in the years during menopause and 2-3%
in the years to follow. (Bellantoni M, Blackman M, 1996).
So, withholding the negative impact of ageing on the internal organs and circulatory system, you are still more likely to fall and suffer a fracture in the later years of your life due to bone loss.
So what can we do about it?
Studies have shown that regular exercise can slow the negative effects of ageing and prolong a functional lifestyle into later years. Physical activity is beneficial for preventing the decline of bone mass and also for the amelioration
of osteoporosis while strength exercise seems to be a powerful stimulus to improve and maintain bone mass during the ageing process. Multi-component exercise programmes as well as Whole Body Vibration may help to increase
or at least prevent the decline in bone mass with ageing, especially in postmenopausal women.
The exercise all depends on the person’s level, age, physical condition and medical history.
However, general recommendations for strength training in the elderly are 2-3 days per week, training at 70%
of 1rm for 8-12 reps for 2 sets that target all major muscle groups (Hartard et al, 1996). Coupled with these 2 days
of aerobic training, typically walking for 40-60 minutes will improve bone mass loss, maintain weight and increase cardiac function.
The earlier an elderly person starts strength training the better the success rate will be. In conclusion strength
and power training with low loads will improve the fine motor skills such as balance and co-ordination whilst
increasing bone density and decreasing the losses of type II motor fibres. In general exercise will improve
cardiac function,decrease weight and decrease ageing related illnesses.
We highly recommend that a Strength & Conditioning exercise programme be undertaken
by our senior clients as soon as possible.
Physical Activity Benefits
- Decreases Mortality
- Less Falls
- Cognitive Benefits
- Decreases the chance of a Coronary Event
- Decreases Type 2 Diabetes
- Improves Body Composition and decrease Lipid (Fat) Profile
- Decreases Hypertension
- Improves Cardio-respiratory Function
- Can slow Osteoporosis
Contact Gavin Egan at PureBody Health on
01371 859991 or email@example.com
to find out more.