Have you noticed your balance took a dive after spending so much time at home?
We’ve been hearing the same thing from our clients as they’re starting to get outside more and noticing their legs feel weaker and they’re more cautious than they used to be.
Contrary to popular belief, anyone can improve their balance and strength, regardless of their age.
However, building strength and balance after age 60 takes a slightly different approach than that of someone in their 20s or 30s. Your body has been through more life experiences and your plan will have to take into account your current abilities, injury and surgery history, and goals.
For these reasons, for best results it’s worthwhile to work 1-on-1 with a physical therapist. However, there are 3 strategies you can use right now to prevent muscle loss, improve strength, and maximize your balance.
3 Ways to Prevent Muscle Loss, Improve Strength, and Maximize Balance
1. Eat Whole, Healthy Food Sources!
Certain food groups have been shown in the research to help preserve muscle mass and improve how well the muscles work. This is important because better muscle strength and the amount of muscle you have is shown to correlate to more independence in your 70s, 80s, and beyond.
Red Meat and Dairy – There is strong evidence these foods help preserve muscle mass and moderate evidence they help support muscle strength.
Fruits and Vegetables – Higher intake of these foods was associated with better muscle function. There is moderate evidence they help support muscle strength and prevent muscle loss.
Cereal, Fish, and Soy Products – There is limited evidence that these foods help with muscle health in older adults.
2. Add Strength Training to Your Workouts
Resistance training using hand weights, resistance tubes, or even just your bodyweight is widely accepted as the leading clinical intervention to prevent muscle loss.
No need to try and be Arnold Schwarzenegger, though.
Aim for 1 to 3 strength training sessions per week. Warm up for 10 minutes with some type of aerobic activity like walking or riding a stationary bike. Use 45 minutes to do 4-5 exercises that use multiple muscle groups.
Exercises like squats, step-ups, rows, presses, and crunches are a great foundation and can all be modified to an individual’s ability and comfort level, and pain profile. This is where working with a professional like a physical therapist can speed up the process and avoid injury.
Research shows us that individuals who follow this type of program can see a 2, 3, or 4 time increase in their strength, even at an elderly age (>90 years old)!
3. Do Aerobic Activity 30 Minutes Per Day!
Getting your blood flowing does wonders for your muscles, balance, and brain health.
Think about something you’re comfortable and safe with that raises your heart rate and aim to do that for 30 minutes per day. You can break it up into 2 bouts of 15 minutes (morning and evening), or 3 bouts of 10 minutes (after each meal).
Ideas include: Walking inside, walking outside, riding the stationary bike, or doing the elliptical machine.
Need some motivation? Older adults were 67% less likely to die of any cause if they spent at least 30 minutes per day in moderate to vigorous physical activity compared to those who did not.
If you need help getting started and don’t feel comfortable on your own, one of our physical therapists would be happy to come to see you and help you get started safely.
Please Call 512-730-0231 If you have any questions about your specific balance and strengthening problem. Or click here if you would like to schedule a FREE Discovery Session