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A Key Component to Healthy Aging

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

*I am not a licensed healthcare professional/doctor. All information shared is from prior knowledge obtained while earning my Kinesiology degree and/or from research I found on my own accord*


What is healthy aging? Why is it so important?


Well, there are so many aspects of healthy aging, but a key area is the ability to maintain independence and lower the likelihood of a disability that could prevent you from doing activities like washing your hair, pulling or pushing open a door, walking, etc.


The movements mentioned above are known as activities of daily living or ADLs. Recently, a study looked at English speakers ranging from ages 60 and higher with known muscle weaknesses such as decreased grip strength. The participants of this study were put into a 10-week program focusing on functional and muscle training exercise and ADLs (Clark et al., 2015).


The activities during this study were aimed to help those within this age cohort maintain their lifestyle, with limited impairment or disability due to the inability to perform ADLs. With the goal being to watch for improvements in motor skills and how ADLs could be improved with proper tools and techniques.


For the first part of the study, the main focus was muscle strength training that targeted the major muscle groups used in a person’s upper and lower extremities.


Movements included: (Clark et al., 2015).

  • Shoulder flexion - raising arms above your head (ie. used when washing hair)

  • Shoulder extension- arm goes down and back (ie. used when lifting self from a chair)

  • Shoulder abduction - moving the arm away from the body

  • Elbow flexion and extension- extending and flexing the arm at the elbow (ie. used for picking up items)

  • Hip flexion and extension- raising leg forward and back

  • Knee flexion and extension- extending the leg straight and bending at the knee (ie. walking)


After this phase, the study moved into functional training which expanded off of muscle strength training by incorporating multi-joint (ie. Shoulder, hip, knee joint, etc) and multiplanar movements (ie. side to side, front to back, rotation) (Clark et al., 2015). “The functional training consists of eight exercises: shoulder diagonal D1 and D2 extension, shoulder diagonal D1 and D2 flexion, chair stand, lifting above the head, leg press, rowing, reaching, and chest press.” (Clark et al., 2015).


Each phase of this study is important because it is building on a person’s range of motion and movement patterns that are typically used every day.


So why is this information so important?


For starters, looking at the phases in this study shows how movements in our exercise overlap with normal things that we do on a regular basis without any thought. It also shows that with consistency, proper tools, and training we can decrease our limitations and improve our motor skills.


But what about when we get older? Think back to the older people in your life, as they got older what did you notice? Some key observations typically include, loss of balance, decreased range of motion, and loss of strength.

Taking that into consideration, it is important that we start now by incorporating muscle strength and functional training into our workout routines. By starting now you are taking control of your health over time and helping to lessen future limitations placed on your body due to age.


In an upcoming blog, I will be building off this study/post by discussing functional training and what that looks like for you during exercise.


 

Sources:


Clark, O., Formyduval, A., Jones, L., Ju-Liu, C. Task-Oriented Exercise to Reduce Activities of Daily Living Disability in Vulnerable Older Adults: A Feasibility Study of the 3-Step Workout for Life. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5301612/.


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