You're Never Too Old, It's Never Too Late
by Bev Kornides, PT, MBA
You can improve your fitness at any age. Even people over 70 can build and develop new strength and agility. Our muscles diminish at a surprising rate as we get older. Research has found that people older than 50 can not only maintain but increase their muscle mass by lifting weights and doing weight bearing exercises. Exercises directed to seniors to improve heart health, body strength and mobility and balance should be on everyone’s agenda. The average 65-year-old can expect to reach their 85th birthday and the average 75-year-old will live to age 87. How well we celebrate those birthdays as the life of the party or immobilized on the sidelines has a lot to do with how we spend our time today.
Regular exercise will help improve our ability to function at almost any age or level of fitness.
For example, take my friend “Bob”. He has had right total knee replacement, right rotator cuff tear, left ankle fusion, general degenerative disc disease with low back pain and a cardiac scare from a recent blood clot in the leg. Over the past 2 years he has noted increased difficulty putting on and taking off his own shoes, slow moving in the morning due to back pain and not only did he need a golf cart to play nine holes, but he needed a “grabbing reach device” to pick up his golf balls. After his cardiac event he was very worried that all these impairments were causing detriments to all his activities of daily life. After being cleared by his vascular and cardiac surgeons he decided to seriously consider a consistent, closely monitored exercise plan. He admitted, just to go to the gym was not his “cup of tea”, instead, he needed someone to be accountable to. After, taking steps to start and maintain a fitness program over the past 6 weeks his progress has been life changing.
Bob's program consisted of stretching to the low back and hamstrings with solid core work and light upper body weightlifting. He does a lot of closed chain exercises for the legs. He admitted that post total knee replacement all he worried about was getting his knee to bend, thus neglecting full strengthening and closed chain/ balance work. Closed chain exercises refer to the kinetic chain of the body. From ground reaction forces from the foot, up through the hip.
Why are closed chain exercises so valuable?
- They are safer for the joints because they improve the stability of the ankle, knee, and hip and cut out any shearing forces.
- They work many more muscle groups, functionally and help with balance. Thus, if your knees are weak, do squats and lunges instead of full leg extensions or curls. If elbows or shoulders are involved, do push-ups or planks versus dangerous overhead presses.
So, making these adjustments and going at his own pace he was able to gain endurance, lose weight, and find joy in his daily life. At this time my 77-year-old friend can now walk 9 holes versus needing a cart and retrieve his own golf balls. He can easily put on his own shoes and socks and has dropped a size in his slacks. The very best is his back pain has dropped from constant nagging level of 5-6 on 0-10 scale, replaced with a level 1-2 of AM stiffness. Nothing fancy, no pills, no special energy drinks, just a commitment to try a new thing called “professionally monitored and consistent fitness.” He continues to be happy finding his purpose in life with part time work, family, church, and volunteering. You can too. Start your fitness journey today. Stay upright, stay well, and stay active!
If you need help starting a fitness program, meeting your fitness goals, or have difficulties doing your daily activities trust in the experts at The Centers For Advanced Orthopaedics (CAO). Our team of physicians, specialists, and therapists are here to keep you moving and enjoying all the activities you love. Schedule an appointment at a convenient location near you.