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Start Weight Training Now for Healthy Old Age

Monday , May 31 , 2021

Start Weight Training Now for Healthy Old Age

Hippocrates said, “That which is used develops; that which is not wastes away.”

As adults steadily move towards old age, it becomes progressively more important to maintain health and fitness through various exercises. More and more, research shows that strength training exercises, in particular, can help maintain health and fitness later in life.

On the flip side, if efforts are not made, the age-related loss of muscle mass can become a slippery slope from which it’s hard to recover.

Why is strength training so necessary for healthy aging? And does that mean other exercises, like walking and stretching, can be ignored? Keep reading to find out!

Why do we lose muscle as we age?

Research from Duke University has found that simple strength-related activities (such as standing up from a chair or balancing on one leg) often become more difficult as early as your 50s.  But why is that?

Often, it’s simply because people become more sedentary as they age – whether it’s due to health issues, physical limitations, or fatigue. In addition, as we grow older:

  • Hormone levels change
  • Protein requirements alter
  • And motor neurons die

Altogether, this can lead to a condition known as Sarcopenia, or the age-related loss of muscle mass. The word means flesh loss – from the Greek’ sarx’ (or flesh) and ‘penia’ (or loss).

This loss of muscle can affect posture, stability, and balance. It is one reason older adults fall so often, but older adults can fix it through regular exercise and strength training.

Sarcopenia can begin to affect adults as young as 30 years old, but it’s not until around 50 that the effects become very noticeable. At that point, muscle mass typically decreases about 30% during the next two decades. Then, even more dramatic losses begin after the age of 80.

It is important to note that age-related muscle loss can vary significantly from person to person.

Those that were active in their younger years are far more likely to stay fit as they get older – that’s why most experts suggest adults start weight training well before they reach middle age.

Signs of Sarcopenia

Often, the signs of Sarcopenia can be vague. Symptoms such as feeling physically weaker or suffering from frequent falls might be attributed to old age or other health issues. However, if you or a loved one experiences one or more of these signs and can’t explain why you should talk to a health professional:

  • Diminished muscle strength
  • Feeling physically weaker over time
  • Having more difficulty lifting common objects
  • Poor handgrip strength
  • Difficulty walking or rising from a seated position
  • Becoming exhausted quickly and having difficulty carrying out daily tasks
  • Unexplained weight loss

Fighting age-related muscle loss

The only way to stay ahead of the aging process is by staying active and fit.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, older people who lift weights can slow or even reverse the age-related loss of muscle mass. In fact, they can actually GAIN strength and better mobility, mental sharpness, and better metabolic health.

Experts say that a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training, and balance work is the key to preventing or reversing the condition, with a particular emphasis on the strength training portion.

A typical weight training program might include:

  • 8 to 10 exercises that target all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulder, and arms)
  • Sets of 12 to 15 reps, performed at an effort of about 5 to 7 on a 10-point scale
  • 2 to 3 workouts per week

Of course, it is best to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Once you’ve been given the go-ahead, a qualified personal trainer can help set up a sequence of exercises tailored to your abilities and can monitor you for safety and technique.

And remember: All of the exercises in the world won’t help if you don’t eat appropriately! So always try to get lots of protein (shoot for 30 grams per meal), check your vitamin D levels, and eat your Omega 3s.

Posted in: Aging, Health

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National Senior Health & Fitness Day

Monday , May 24 , 2021

National Senior Health & Fitness Day

On the last Wednesday of May each year, thousands of older adults put on their sneakers and celebrate National Senior Health & Fitness Day. At ComForCare, we encourage all adults aged 65+ to make exercise a part of their daily routine!

Seniors benefit in many ways from exercise, including stress reduction and stronger muscles and joints. Even better? “Exercise” doesn’t have to be a 60-minute aerobics class or a 5-mile run. There are countless types of physical activity, and most can be modified to fit physical limitations.

Keep reading for more information on the advantages of exercise for seniors and a few fun ways you can get moving.

Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults

As an older adult, exercise can help you in many ways. Countless studies show that it improves both physical and mental health, which helps us maintain independence as we age. Below are six of the best benefits for aging adults:

Prevent Disease

Exercise improves overall immune function, which is important for seniors as their immune systems are sometimes compromised. Even light physical activity, such as walking, can improve digestive function, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down, and maintaining a healthy weight can be challenging. Regular exercise helps boost your metabolism and build muscle mass, helping your body to burn more calories.

Decreased Risk of Falls

Exercise improves your strength, balance, flexibility, and mobility, which in turn can reduce your risk of falls. Strength training can also help alleviate symptoms of conditions such as arthritis and chronic joint pain.

Improved Cognitive Function

Studies show that regular physical activity can lower the risk of cognitive decline and memory loss, no matter when you begin a routine. In addition, exercise can also help slow the progressions of brain disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Better Sleep

Quality sleep is vital for your overall health, especially as you get older. Regular activity can help you fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, and wake feeling more refreshed.

Improved Mental Health

Regular exercise can boost endorphins and reduce the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression. Physical activity can also provide an increase in confidence, leading to better self-esteem and more social interaction.

Easy Exercises for Seniors

Want to get started, but not sure what to try? Whether you’re a total beginner or an exercise pro, these activities can help boost your physical and mental health:

Walking. Walking is the perfect way to get started with an exercise routine. It requires no special equipment, can be done anywhere at any time, and you can move at your own pace.

Water aerobics. Many gyms and fitness centers offer senior-focused water aerobics classes. Working out in the water reduces stress on the body’s joints while still providing strength and cardio fitness.

Tai chi. This martial arts-inspired system can increase balance, stability, and flexibility in older adults. Practiced regularly, it can also help reduce pain in those suffering from conditions such as Fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis.

Yoga. Yoga combines a series of poses with breathing and can be adapted to suit many different fitness levels. It is known to improve strength, flexibility, and balance.

Senior fitness classes. Many senior living communities and gyms/fitness centers offer classes tailored to meet the needs of older adults. Exercising with others can not only help improve fitness but can be fun and provide a new way to socialize.

Getting Started

Getting active is one of the best decisions you can make for your overall health as you age but proceed with caution (especially if you’re a newbie). Get medical clearance from your doctor, consider any health concerns, and listen to your body. Now get out there and have fun!

Posted in: Aging

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Stroke Awareness Tips for Older Adults

Monday , May 17 , 2021

Stroke Awareness Tips for Older Adults

Someone in the United States has a stroke every forty seconds. Two-thirds of those strokes occur in people over 65.

According to the Stroke Association, one in eight strokes is fatal within the first 30 days, and that number jumps up to one in four in the first year. They’re also the leading cause of disability in older adults – strokes reduce mobility in more than half of survivors 65 and over.

Fortunately, if you recognize the signs and get help quickly, you’re much less likely to experience long-term complications. Keep reading to learn more about risk factors, ways to reduce your stroke risk, and what to do if you see any signs.

What is a Stroke?

The Mayo Clinic says that a stroke “occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients.”

There are two main kinds of stroke:

  • Ischemic: This is the most common kind. It’s caused by a blood clot or narrowing of a blood vessel leading to the brain. They are often the result of a blood clot within the brain or neck or the movement of a clot from another part of the body.
  • Hemorrhagic: The second major kind of stroke occurs when a broken blood vessel causes bleeding in the brain. The bleeding can block oxygen and nutrients from reaching the brain.

When someone experiences a stroke, the brain cells that don’t get enough oxygen will suffer and eventually die. Treatment may repair damaged cells, but those that have been killed can never be brought back. That’s why people who had a stroke may have trouble thinking, speaking, or walking.

Signs and Symptoms

Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke can help you identify one and get the necessary help quickly. According to the American Stroke Association, these signs can help determine if you or a loved one need to seek medical care:

F.A.S.T.

Face drooping – Does one side of the face droop or feel numb? Is your smile uneven?

Arm weakness – Is one arm weak or numb, or does it drift downward?

Speech difficulty – Is your speech slurred? Do you find it difficult or impossible to speak?

Time to call for help – If you or someone else suffers from these symptoms, call 911 right away. Check the time, so you know when the symptoms first began.

Acting quickly can mean the difference between life and disability or death.

Lower Your Risk of Stroke

Some risk factors for stroke, like age and family history, can’t be avoided. But simple changes to your lifestyle can prevent many others. To help mitigate your risk, follow these suggestions:

  • Stop smoking. No matter how old you are, quitting smoking makes a huge difference. It’s never too late! Control your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is high, follow your doctor’s recommendations to control it. Treating high blood pressure helps prevent both heart disease and stroke.
  • Monitor your cholesterol. Cholesterol can build up in arteries, blocking blood flow and leading to stroke. If you have high cholesterol, work with your doctor to lower it.
  • Manage your diabetes. Untreated diabetes can damage blood vessels, narrow arteries and lead to stroke. Follow your doctor’s directions to keep your condition under control.
  • Exercise regularly and eat well. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including plenty of physical activity.

Treating Stroke

If you suspect that you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, seek immediate medical attention. A doctor will diagnose based on symptoms, medical history, and tests such as a CT scan.

Treatment after a stroke may include therapy, rehabilitation, medication, or surgery. Antithrombotics are commonly used to prevent or treat stroke and help dissolve the blood clot that is blocking blood flow to the brain. Surgeries, including angioplasty and stenting, can repair damage to blood vessels or malformations in the brain.

Some people make a full recovery soon after a stroke, but others can take months or even years. Sometimes, the damage is so severe that rehabilitation and therapy can’t really help.

Remember: the best treatment is prevention! Talk to your doctor today to find out how you can lower your risk of stroke.

Posted in: Aging

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