Move it or lose it

Never is the saying “move it or lose it” more relevant than when we’re older.

Sarcopenia, or age-related muscle wastage, usually begins when we turn 30, with those of us who are inactive losing as much as five per cent muscle mass per decade. This process usually speeds up after we turn 75, but may start as early as 65 . 

Unfortunately sarcopenia is a normal part of ageing and is as inevitable and unavoidable as grey hair and wrinkles. However, there are some steps you can take to slow down the progression of sarcopenia by keeping active. 

The importance of keeping active in our silver years

This is especially important as we move in to our silver years. Physiotherapist at Bupa Aged Care at Traralgon, Shelly Andersen, understands this all too well and runs a daily exercise program for the residents to help them stay moving for as long as possible. 
Shelly works with each resident to design an exercise program specifically tailored to  their needs and motivations. The exercises are intended to help the residents build their strength so they can bear their own weight and balance better. This can help lower their risk of falling and hopefully help them get a little bit of independence back so they can do the things they love again. 

“It’s really important to maintain strength. If you can’t weight bear, you’re in trouble. You need muscle tone in order to weight bear, so we need to build up strength to keep people mobile,” says Shelly.

Our muscles need to be able to bear weight so that we can walk and run but this ability to move can also affect other areas of our life that most of us take for granted. 

“Mobility extends to other areas. If you can’t move your fingers or your hands you’ll struggle to even feed yourself,” says Shelly. 

But mobility goes far beyond movement, it’s also about the mental wellness that comes from having the freedom to get out and about and do the things you love. Whether that’s cycling, playing golf or simply catching up with friends over a cup of coffee.

“It’s important for our residents to maintain mobility and strength so they can have that quality of life still and independence. It’s to keep their independence for as long as possible” says Shelly.

“If the residents are happy they’re going to want to succeed in life, they’re going to want to try new things, do more things, be willing to socialise. If their mobility goes down so does their morale. Happiness is hugely based around mobility and the way they think,” she says.

So what types of exercise can help older people ?

Exercise for older people is not about boot camp and spin class, but more about gently keeping their muscles and joints limber and strong. Daily stretching and joint mobility exercises can help keep the body supple, while seated to standing exercises, and balance is very important for core strength. 

Here are some exercises you can help your loved one do today:

Easy exercises for stability and flexibility

Easy exercises to help keep you on your feet

 Click here for a printable page with the exercises
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