If we stop moving quickly, we stop being able to move quickly.
Never has this old saying been more appropriate that when taking about maintaining freedom and independence as we age. We may not want to admit it, but "normal" age-related physical decline can start at 40 or even earlier depending on our lifestyle and habits.
What comes to mind when you think of things that start to decline as we age? Vision, hearing, balance, strength? Those are definitely conditions associated with aging. One area you may not think about, but that is of utmost importance, is POWER.
Studies show that power actually decreases at almost twice the rate that our strength decreases. Every decade after 40, power declines 17% and strength 10%. This means that by 70 there has been a 30 percent decline in strength and a 51% decline in power.
So what exactly is power and why is it important? Power is the ability to move weight quickly. Power is being able to move with "springiness" or "vigor". Power is what allows us to get out of a chair, climb up a rock or a curb, walk, play pickle ball or golf. Power is what gives us the freedom to continue doing what we want to do. When we lose power, we lose the freedom to roughhouse with grandkids, to visit exciting new places, and to help others through volunteering and service programs.
As time goes on, this decrease in power not only robs us of our freedom to enjoy life and to care for our loved ones, it can cause us to lose our independence as well. Slow, shuffling gait and the inability to coordinate foot contact is why elderly individuals suffer from accidental falls. This is a huge concern, because in folks 65 and older, falls are the number one cause of death. With these things in mind, we can see that training power is paramount for successful aging, regardless of our current physical condition. As we get older we HAVE TO continue challenging our nervous system to be fast, powerful and coordinated. Usually the younger we are the easier this is to do on a regular basis. However when we add in some arthritis, maybe a joint replacement, the inability to participate in high-impact activities, and maybe just the desire to "relax and enjoy" our retirement, it becomes harder and harder to participate in activities that can help maintain the freedom to do what we want to do and the independence to do what we have to do.
Great ways to work on power are activities and exercises that require quickness. Brisk walking, skipping, and hopping are all excellent. But what if you feel unsafe doing these activities, or cannot perform these types of activities due to balance troubles or pain?
We at Fit-Rx would love to help you explore solutions. We can help you regain and maintain your freedom and independence. Contrary to what some believe, it is not impossible to reverse the decline!