As we age, most of us will lose muscle mass.
But it’s critical to do all we can to maintain our strength to avoid becoming too weak and frail.
That is not to say you should be as ripped as you were in your 20s or 30s… but fending off frailty WILL serve you well as you age.
After all, one of the main factors behind suffering a life-altering (or life-shortening) fall is frailty.
So, how can you maintain—or build back—your strength?
Forget about power lifting… I have an easy and enjoyable solution.
Yoga can help
Frailty isn’t a “small” problem. In fact, up to half of all older adults, 80 years or older, are estimated to be frail.
But a new, multi-study review shows that yoga can improve several frailty markers in previously inactive older adults. (Emphasis on the previously inactive… because that’s great news!)
Participants included 2,500 community-dwelling seniors, nursing home residents, and those with chronic diseases.
Researchers looked at how yoga influenced gait speed, handgrip strength, balance, lower extremity strength, endurance, and other measures of physical performance.
Ultimately, those randomized to engage in yoga increased some of these common frailty markers—especially gait speed and lower extremity strength—compared to those who were inactive or received education intervention.
The best part? The intervention involved Iyengar or chair-based yoga methods, which are types most older folks can easily perform.
Three ways to maintain strength
Yoga integrates across multiple body systems, including the musculoskeletal system, nervous system, and others. And previous research has linked yoga to positive effects on cardiovascular risk factors, mood, and quality of life.
So I’m not surprised to learn it can fend off frailty, too.
I love yoga for this very reason… it’s great for many different parts of the body. And I love the fact that it’s accessible to most.
Of course, it isn’t the only thing you need to do to maintain strength as you age. I also recommend alternating yoga with some light resistance training.
To get a general idea of how little weight you can use, I train almost every day and use my body weight combined with a 10-pound kettle bell and a 15-pound body bar. Those aren’t heavy weights, but it gets the job done… safely and without injuries.
And of course, you have to eat well, too. Remember, protein matters more than people think—and many seniors don’t eat enough. So, eat your body weight in grams of protein on the days you aren’t exercising, and eat 1.5 times your body weight on the days that you are.
At the end of the day, frailty is a MAJOR health concern because it’s associated with significant declines in health and potential loss of independence.
But there are simple things you can do every day—like yoga, light resistance training, and upping your protein—to maintain physical function, independence, and prevent falls.
P.S. For additional details about how to combat frailty, out the December 2019 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“The common occurrence that’s as deadly as any chronic disease”). Not yet a subscriber? Click here to learn about becoming one.
“Yoga Linked With Improved Gait Speed, Lower-Extremities Strength in Older Adults.” Medscape, 3/14/2023. (medscape.com/viewarticle/989622)