During the process of aging, it becomes obvious that there are many changes occurring within our bodies. One of the more obvious ones is the loss of muscle mass and strength. More noticeable after the age of 60, often the first sign is just a feeling of weakness. This process of losing muscles mass and strength is largely viewed as an inevitable one. After peaking at a relatively early age, the loss of muscle mass begins around the age of 40 years at a rate of about 1% per year, increasing to about 2% per year by the age of 50. If you were to total the loss of muscle mass between the ages of 20 and 60, you’d have approximately a 20% loss of muscle mass over that time span. Also, these statistics are only for the general population. If you incorporate those who have suffered from injuries, dysfunctions and chronic pain that decrease our activity levels, those statistics on muscle loss will increase. More practically, the loss of muscle mass and strength with age is associated with a decreased functional ability which can lead to an increase risk of falling, an increased risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures, and ultimately, a loss of independence.
So why bring up a “depressing” topic like this? Well, there are two reasons. First, the aging population in North America is growing rapidly. Research has shown that by the year 2025, the elderly population in North America will be 80% greater than it was in the year 2000. And second, there is a lot of research that shows that the loss of muscle mass, although it can’t be completely reversed, it can be greatly decreased through exercise that includes weight bearing and resistance training. This is great news for many of us. However, as previously mentioned, there are those of us who suffer from injuries and dysfunctions that cause chronic pain. The thought of exercising or stepping in a gym while you struggle to walk or even just get out of bed in the morning can be an extremely daunting one. So how do we get around this?
The answer? Movement based therapy.
With the aid of a kinesiologist, whose expertise is human movement, guided therapy plans can allow you to recover faster from injuries, correct dysfunctions and ultimately, get rid of the chronic pain you may be suffering from. This will allow you to become more active, doing the things you love. Whether it’s walking the 18 holes of golf in the summertime, skiing with grandchildren or just taking your dog for a walk. Being active can greatly decrease the loss of muscle mass with age. So why wait? The sooner you start the better.