How to Maintain Muscle Strength and Balance as You Age
Aging is a natural process but what makes aging successful? People refuse to accept what was once considered a natural decline in health with age. We desire to stay active and healthy far into our golden years. Muscle strength and balance are key when it comes to successful aging and your independence depends on them.
Why is Muscle Strength and Balance Important?
Muscle strength and balance help to determine your fall risk and how independent you are. They determine how you move in your day to day life. Your risk of falling increases with poor balance and decreased muscle strength. The risk of a fall increases with a loss in strength of the muscles in the legs. Weak muscles lead to challenges when moving and may make everyday activities more difficult. Poor balance makes you unsteady on your feet which increases your risk of falling. If you feel you have poor muscle strength or poor balance, you may feel that you need to limit the activities you do. These declines in muscle strength and balance don’t need to happen. There are simple strategies you can apply.
How to Improve Muscle Strength
Muscle strength is built through exercise. Every activity from simple walking to running, swimming or cycling involves the use of your muscles. When we use our muscles, we make them stronger. Something as simple as an after-dinner walk will go a long way to help keep your independence.
Specific resistance exercises are also helpful. Resistance exercises are done with a weight or resistance that feels challenging but is doable. These exercises can be completed with body weight, resistance bands, or with dumbbells. If you don’t have the equipment, simple household goods including soup cans or water bottles are great substitutes. You don’t need to go to the gym; there are many great muscle strengthening exercises you can do at home.
The best exercise program is one you enjoy. This will help you stick with it and see results. Before beginning a new exercise program, be sure to check with your healthcare professional to make sure it’s safe for you to do.
How to Improve Balance
Balance is what keeps you upright and on your feet. When you have poor balance, you are unsteady and more likely to fall. The first thing to consider for balance is your health. Many health conditions may impair your balance. Regular checkups help to ensure your health is not holding you back. Balance like muscle strength can be improved through exercise. Exercises like yoga, tai chi, and Pilates are great ways to increase your balance. Tied into balance is flexibility. Improve your flexibility with these same exercises as well as simple stretches after your work on your muscle resistance. Things such as arm circles, hamstring stretches, and quadricep stretches go a long way in maintaining your flexibility.
Every day should include some form of activity; walking, running, cycling, etc. Specific muscle strengthening exercises should be done 2-3 days a week. Balance exercises, flexibility training, and things like walking should be incorporated into your daily routine. Adults should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. These minutes should be done in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
Exercise is key to maintaining muscle strength and balance as you age. A wide variety of exercises can all be used to build muscle strength and endurance. The most important factor is picking something you enjoy and stick to it. Consistency is key. Your chiropractor and massage therapist can assess your body and provide you with strategies to maintain muscle strength and balance. It’s never too late to start exercising or too early to prepare to age!