Over 70 and exercise. Is it time to challenge our old outdated beliefs?
Updated: Mar 12
With today’s society gradually aging and the number of over 85-year old expected to triple by 2050, is it now time to preserve health, mobility and function for the aging population?
Professor Izquierds and colleagues had recently addressed these challenges to assist with understanding the best available options to date. It has been well established that strength training caused improved muscle mass and mobility for people around the age of 90 and a more recent study highlighted an 8 week strength training intervention resulted in improved muscle strength, decreased risk of falls, improved confidence and awareness in people over 90 years of age.
Moreover, sedentary lifestyle, either through chronic (reading, watching TV, puzzles etc) or forced sedentary (including hospital admissions, illnesses, bed rest etc) had a negative impact on strength and mobility. In fact; forced sedentary is considered a disability which is closely related to long term disability, institutionalisation and deterioration in physical and mental health.
The good news is; basic exercises can help. Simple strength training is seen to have a significant impact on helping physical and mental health and delaying the onset of poor mobility and limited function.
Being proactive in this instance is always the favoured option. Doing something little and often before we realise our diminished physical health is often regarded as the best option to maintain long term health and function. However, it is never too late to start. We can all make improvements and achieve our goals. We are all capable of adapting and changing, no matter what age we are.
What is commonly seen within physiotherapy is those patients who get unexpected injuries. They were getting along great, no aches or pains then suddenly, they picked up an object and get immediate low back pain, or they were putting away pots and pans and got shoulder pain. We think everything is fine, until its not! We are led by pain. If we don’t experience pain, then we assume we are well. Taking that proactive approach is beneficial in reducing these surprises and diminishes the risk of unexpected injuries.
The hardest part of becoming more active is finding your own individual base line. An activity level that you feel comfortable with, from which to build. Quite often, it is evident our brains think we are more capable of what our bodies can do and ultimately, we take on too much and risk causing an injury. This is no more obvious on the 1st Jan every year. We turn over a new leaf and commit to being more active. We work hard, day and night at getting fitter, only to find 2-3 weeks into our new healthy lifestyle, that our body’s are worn out. We ache all over, we’re tired, fatigued and need a break. Starting small, being consistent and building exercise tolerance gradually is by far the most effective at maintaining exercise for the long term. The time taken to build and get stronger may take longer and slower as we age, however, persistence and acceptance is key.
Here at Impact Physiotherapy we encourage people to be more active, to find your base line activity level, no matter how small and work from there. We have the tools to assist you in achieving your goals and we have the expertise to design suitable training programs to follow and allow you to remain healthy, active and confident for longer.
We are now offering tailored training programs to the older population to complete in your own time. These training programs are basic exercises which can be performed in your own home, on the floor, bed or chair and require very little equipment. As the exercises progress it may be wise to invest in additional equipment, however, for the beginner, it isn’t necessary.
If you would rather get guidance with your training program, we offer over 70’s exercise classes, or one to one sessions aimed at becoming stronger, confident and more active. The group program is a 12 week course, in small groups of up to 7 people, that is aimed at the beginner and will evolve as you get stronger.
Get in touch for more info on training programs or exercise classes:
Izquierdo, M et al (2020). Exercise in people over 85. Advanced age is no barrier to the benefits of tailored exercise. British Medical Journal. 368. 402-4.