Findings of a study by Mylène Aubertin-Leheudre, PhD, a researcher at the Research Centre of the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, affiliated with Université de Montréal demonstrated quality not quantity is key in terms of muscles and aging in women.
The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, focused on the relationship between functional independence and muscle mass and quality in 1219 healthy women aged 75 and older.
The analysis showed that women who maintained better muscle quality (the ratio of strength to muscle mass) also enjoyed better functional reserves, which plays a role in helping individuals maintain independence. The study showed women with lower muscle quality had a three to six times higher risk of developing functional impairments such as difficulty in walking or getting up from a chair.
“These results contradict what has been believed for a long time about muscles and aging. Many seniors, whom we often perceive as frail and fragile, can surprise us by their muscle strength. Although inevitable, age-related muscle loss (a normal process called “sarcopenia”) should no longer be seen as a sign of weakness,” said Dr. Mylène Aubertin-Leheudre in a press release issued bythe Research Centre of the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal.
Holly Hargrave, a personal trainer and founder of AthleticGenius said in an e-mail power and resistance require the use of plyometric movements and deceleration exercises. One of Hargrave’s specialties includes training senior women.
“It is important to note that a recent study concluded that total muscle mass decreases by nearly 50 percent for people between the ages of 20 and 90. On average, people lose about 30 percent of their strength between ages 50 and 70, and another 30 percent of what’s left per decade after that. Generally, people lose about 1 percent of their lean muscle mass per year after age 40,” she said.
In terms of issues with balance, Hargrave went on to say deceleration and acceleration exercises are key.
“Balance is a huge issue with senior women. Deceleration and acceleration exercises are excellent for building resistance and power as well as maintaining strong balance, ” she said.
Hargrave advises her clients to perform simple exercises that address in increase in resistance and power and muscle mass.
“As I tell my clients,”gravity is not your friend”.
Simple examples of exercises senior women can engage in will increase resistance and power, but not simply gain muscle mass.
Control your decent and rise using your core muscle groups with as much explosive energy as you can muster,” she said.
Hargrave provided a series of exercises for our readers:
1. Sitting down in a stable chair, such as a kitchen or wooden chair in as fluid and controlled manner as possible, you want your gluteus to touch the chair so lightly that you barely hear the sound of you coming into contact with the chair. This adds deceleration movement which is resistance related. 15 sets x 3
Next, rise with power using the core muscles (core muscles are the muscles in the upper and lower torso), leading with the hips, gluteus and quads but also using the abdominals to stand strong and pull your shoulder blades together into perfect posture.
The rise should be as explosive as possible ( this is adding plyometric movement which is power related ) Hesitate in this strength position ( long enough to speak the word “strong” ). repeat 15 sets x 3
2.) An excellent exercise for core legs and arms is a plank. Beginning on feet and elbows the woman should simply hold a plank position. As her strength and balance increases she can begin to lift on leg at a time for 15 repetitions on each leg . This supports balance glutes and arm strength. As she progresses further she can come up onto her hands and hold a full plank. As she progresses from the full plank to the leg lift her balance and stability will be greatly challenge and improved. In this scenario the leg lift is the explosive movement = power. The plank is the resistance portion because gravity is opposing force and one is holding their body weight in opposition to the floor. This exercise can begin with simply timing yourself to hold the plank for 30 seconds, to the leg lift to working on arms not elbows with the leg lift.
Description of the plank position:
Your body is a strong board parallel to the floor
Beginners start on elbows until they build arm strength
Envision lifting abdominals off the fabric of their shirt
Keep the glutes engaged
Keep the spine in alignment
Trainer Holly Hargrave demonstrates the plank: http://youtu.be/Jlmnz3ULjFo
3.) An inexpensive purchase is a large work-out blow up type of stability ball you can get them even at Walmart or Target. They come in various diameters. The client places the ball behind her back against a wall. Pressing her back into the ball she is instructed to lower herself with control ( graceful deceleration ) into a squat position knees over ankles and as low as she is comfortable and then rise with explosive power engaging her abs, pushing the ball into the wall with her CORE and squeezing her gluteus. Repeat 15 repetitions. http://youtu.be/H3H9eu2qvno
4.) Weighted soft balls are also available from increments of 1 up to 10 pounds. I have my clients stand and pass with power these balls over head leaning left when the ball is in the left hand and leaning right when the ball is in the right hand. This is a rib to hip movement and works arms as well as obliques. It improves coordination, maintains muscle mass, involves acceleration – throwing the ball to your opposite hand as hard as you can, and deceleration catching and controlling the ball as you transfer it hand to hand and do a side standing scrunch. Rib to hip. This movement can also transfer to the waist level and again throw left to right and back. ( repetitions should be 20 to keep the movement even x 3 sets )
5.) If the woman has access to a gym, really any of the simple Cybex types of row machines, or chest press that control movement are also wonderful. Just keep the weight light and focus more on control movement of movement.
To learn more about fitness, visit: http://athleticgenius.com/