Exercise is important to healthy aging. Strong muscles improve balance and decrease the risk of falls. Strong muscles can also reduce aches and pains and increase an overall sense of well-being. Seniors don’t need to become competitive weight lifters but the stronger their muscles become the better their health will be.
As we age, muscle mass decreases. Starting in our thirties and continuing into our eighties we lose up to 15% of our lean muscle mass. Maintaining muscle strength and mass helps to strengthen bones and restore balance, one of the most important factors in avoiding falls. It can help to reduce the common symptoms of some common aging problems including arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, back pain, and depression.The good news is that the body is responsive to strength training at any age.
Here are four reasons why seniors need strong muscles:
1. Reduce the risk of falls: Each year, more than 1.6 million older U.S. adults go to emergency departments for fall-related injuries. They are a leading cause of injury and even death. Lifting weights just two or three times a week can increase strength by building lean muscle. Studies have shown that even this small amount of strength training can increase bone density, overall strength, and balance. The fewer falls your loved one experiences the healthier they will be.
2. Improve balance: Improving balance can decrease the risk of falls and increase mobility. Better balance means better walking and that makes exercise easier. Improved balance will also reduce the risk of accidents at home. When a senior has better balance they are more able to carry out the activities of daily living independently.
3. Fight osteoporosis: As we age, bone density decreases. That can lead to osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become fragile, weak and are more prone to fractures. More than 40 million Americans have, or are at risk for, osteoporosis. It is more common in women than in men. However, exercise can increase bone strength and density. Weight-bearing activity is particularly useful in fighting osteoporosis because it causes the bones to work harder and strengthens the muscles around them.
4. Fight osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cartilage between the joints breaks down with age. It causes stiffness, pain, and loss of movement in the joints. Strength training is effective in fighting osteoarthritis and improving the joints, especially when exercises improve range of motion, flexibility and endurance. Staying active and maintaining a healthy weight are two of the most effective ways to manage osteoarthritis.
In addition to these specific benefits, exercise improves overall mood and cognitive function for seniors. Studies have shown that regular physical activity can slow memory decline and protect against dementia. The Balanced Care Method puts these findings into practice. It is a program developed by Home Care Assistance built on studies that demonstrate that only one-third of our longevity is based on genetics and two-thirds on lifestyle factors within our control.
Home Care Assistance caregivers are trained in the Method, offering the first senior care solution with an emphasis on balance and longevity. By working with specific lifestyle behaviors, Home Care Assistance caregivers extend and enhance the lives of seniors, helping them live longer, happier, more balanced lives. We can help your senior remain active in order to fight age-related disease, maintain strong muscles and prevent what can be the devastating effect of falls.