Everyone has differing amounts of muscle on their body. As we grow older, maintaining the muscles we have becomes very important.
A quick overview of the muscular system - it is made up of over 600 muscles. There are 3 types of muscles - smooth, skeletal and cardiac. Smooth and cardiac muscles act involuntarily, and help our body organs and digestive system function. Skeletal muscles act voluntarily, meaning we can control them consciously.
This post focuses mainly on the skeletal system as this is the area we have the most control over. We can make a big difference to the type of life that we live if we maintain the strength in our skeletal muscles. We remain active, mobile and with less injuries or pain, which in turn allows us to do all the activities we love to do.
The main function of skeletal muscle is to move the body. The stronger and more flexible the muscles are, the better we can move. Muscles attach to the bones, and wrap around the joints, literally assisting the body in every movement you make including, sitting, standing, stepping up, stepping down, walking, reaching, bending, and so on.
If you haven't realised it yet, muscles are very important!
Some of the skeletal muscles that come to mind are the quadriceps (legs), glutes (hips) deltoids (shoulders), lats (back), biceps and triceps (arms). They are all important muscles that assist your body in different ways.
Strength affects our ability to balance
One of the biggest contributing factors to having good balance is leg strength. Leg strength is essentially strong muscles and bones. Strength is gained from being as active as possible, doing weight bearing activities (standing, not sitting!), and a variety of strengthening exercises that you can do at home or at the local fitness studio.
As we age we can lose up to 5% of our muscle every decade, which is called Sarcopenia. Sarcopenia can speed up drastically when we reach the age of 60. If we lose too much muscle, then it can lead to falls and other injuries and health issues (often from not being as active). The good news is that sarcopenia can be slowed, and in some cases even reversed through activity and muscle strengthening.
Muscle strengthening doesn’t have to be lifting big weights - but can be achieved by doing repeated functional exercises (exercises that mimic the activities we do everyday). Often using one’s own body weight is sufficient to build muscle strength.
I encourage you all to do what you can, for as long as you can. Activity will keep your muscles as healthy as possible, and will allow you to do the things you love the most.
If you've got any questions about the information in this post, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott Falconer (B.Sc. (Health Sciences); Cert. Functional Aging)
Co-Founder AgeFIT Home
At AgeFIT, our certified functional aging specialist designs and demonstrates online video strength, mobility and balance routines for seniors that people can choose to do in their own homes at times that suit them. With 3 levels (basic-moderate-challenging), we have progressions and modifications for most exercises enabling people to adapt the exercises to their individual strengths and weaknesses. Click HERE>> to learn more about our 8 Week Strength & Balance Program for Seniors.
The content of this article is the personal view of the author, and is not intended as medical advice. The author is not a licensed medical professional, and this article is not specific medical advice. We recommend that if you have a pre-existing condition, which may be affected by low impact exercise, we recommend you seek the advice of your doctor or specialist before commencing any of our exercise routines.