As we age we tend to lose a lot of our range of movement, flexibility and strength. This can restrict our daily lives by making simple tasks much harder. Walking up and down stairs, carrying shopping bags, getting in and out of a car etc. This loss is because our bodies have a use it or lose it rule. If we don’t use our range of movement then it starts to decline. If we don’t use our muscles then we will lose strength and muscle mass. The best way to understand this is by looking at someone who has broken their arm. They’ll wear a cast for about 6 weeks and when the cast is removed the muscle will have wasted and the arm will be stiff and weak.
Unfortunately we are becoming more and more sedentary these days. We move far less than we are designed to do. Look at a baby and watch how they move. They can sit on the floor and plant their face between their knees! We are designed to move. People are losing their strength, muscle and flexibility far sooner than before also but the good news is we can not only slow this but also increase our range of movement and strength no matter what age we are.
Also as we age our hormones start to decline. Vital hormones that keep us young like growth hormone and testosterone both decline as we age. This in turn leads to low energy, poor physical strength and muscle loss.
In order to stay flexible and keep our joint mobility we must practice joint mobility exercises. Mobility is taking your joints through their full range of movement. For example a shoulder roll: Lift your shoulders right up to your ears, roll them right back, squeeze your shoulder blades back, pull your shoulders down and roll forward again and repeat.
A simple mobility routine that I use with all my clients is called MMAS – Mobility and Muscle Activation Sequence. This 10 minute routine takes all your major joints through their full range and done regularly can reduce and eliminate many aches and pains. It can also make increasingly difficult tasks much easier like tying a shoelace. To view the MMAS routine click here.
When lifting weights research shows that using heavy, challenging weights with short rest periods will stimulate testosterone and growth hormone, light weights do not. We also must choose movements that work all our major muscles to get the most benefits.
Weight training can be one of the most beneficial strategies we can use to slow down the aging process. It will help build bone and joint strength to guard against osteoporosis and it will help maintain and build muscle, vital for day to day tasks like lifting, pushing, climbing stairs etc. If you are lifting a weight ensure it is heavy enough that you can do no more than 10-12 reps. Even your bodyweight can be used in a routine.
I would advise hiring an experienced coach who can help you with a weight training programme especially if this is something new to you.
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