Successful Aging – If you don’t use it you lose it!

Updated: Sep 17


We are all guilty of it; sometimes we have a break from our usual exercise routine, get lazy, go on a holiday…But for whatever reason it may be, it always take a bit of time to get back into the swing of things. For the majority of people as they age, these gaps between exercise and movement become longer and longer. And returning to them gets progressively harder and harder. Aside from exercise, something that often gets forgotten about range of motion or mobility. And all of a sudden people can’t lift their arms above their head without shoulder pain or back pain. This matches the common misconception that for a long time, it was thought that changes to muscles, bones and joints were unavoidable with age. Is this true?


Joint stiffness is a common complaint an Exercise Physiologist will encounter, usually also combined with a lack of strength in ageing populations. There are age-related changes in joints that happen; joint movement can become stiffer as the lubricating fluid inside your joints decreases and the cartilage becomes thinner. Ligaments also tend to shorten and lose some flexibility, making joints feel stiff. This is coupled with muscles losing size and strength as we get older, which can contribute to fatigue, weakness and reduced tolerance to exercise.


However, research is now proving that it is possible to reduce and reverse the risks to muscles, bones and joints by performing physical activity; that physical inactivity is now the cuplrit associated with these signs of ageing. The old saying goes that ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it.’ Well the answer to that is yes! Successful aging encompasses mobility, strength and cardiovascular health.


Food for thought: The body is made to move. Ageing bodies respond to exercise positively; the list is endless. Improved bone strength, muscle strength, balance and coordination… But the biggest thing is maintaining quality of life. Keeping your body moving the way it was built to move, will keep you doing the things you want to do with your life. Simple things like tai chi and walking regularly are great ways to keep your body moving. Work on keeping your body as young as your mind.


Having a co-morbidity to exercise relating to joints or bones such as osteoporosis, arthritis or joint replacement can sometimes make your choice of exercise a little more confusing. This is where an Exercise Physiologist can help. Prescribing the right exercise to assist in improving your joint mobility, or muscle weakness can be as important as participation.


To book a consultation with one of our Exercise Physiologists, please call (08) 6162 2616 to speak to a reception team member.



References

Bouchard C1, Blair SN2, Katzmarzyk PT3. 2015. “Less Sitting, More Physical Activity, or Higher Fitness?”Mayo Clin Proc. S0025-6196(15)00630-8

Spinks, W.L., Daley, M.J. 2000. “Exercise, Mobility and Aging.” Sports Medicine (29) 1, 1-12

Fried, L.P., Balfour, J., Volpato, S., Guralnik, J.M., Simonsick, E.M. 2005. “Just Get Out the Door! Importance of Walking Outside the Home for Maintaining Mobility: Findings from the Women’s Health and Aging Study.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 53, (2), 198–203

Kahn, R.L., Rowe, J.W. 1997. “Successful Aging.” The Gerontologist 37 (4):433-440

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