The importance of investing in strength, stability, and mobility through resistance training to counteract the natural age-related declines in muscle mass and bone density cannot be emphasised more strongly. Often, our present state of fitness, strength, and mobility might seem enough particularly when we’re active and able to do what we enjoy doing, but if we want to continue enjoying what you do today, we have to over-invest in our physical health to compensate for the inevitable decline in strength as we grow older.
If the 2 kg cast iron wok you haul from the cupboard when you’re making a stir fry feels heavy now, the numbers below will show you that you’ll need to be able to comfortably pick up 6 kgs to use your wok in 20 years’ time. Anything you do today that feels like an effort will almost certainly be out of your reach years in the future if you don’t over-invest in strength, stability, and mobility now.
Here are compelling reasons why increasing levels of fitness, strength, and mobility now is essential for maintaining and even surpassing one’s current strength and abilities in 10 years:
Countering Natural Age-Related Declines
The natural aging process leads to muscle loss and decreased bone density. It’s estimated that between the ages of 60 and 70, individuals might experience a muscle loss of about 15% to 30%. Between 70 and 80, this muscle loss might range from 30% to 50%, reaching up to around 50% or more by the age of 80 to 90. This means that to compensate for the estimated cumulative muscle loss and maintain a similar level of strength to where you are today, you’ll need to train to become 2.86 times the strength you are now. Keep in mind that this is a simplified estimation, and individual variations can significantly influence these numbers.
Mitigating Functional Decline
Improved fitness and mobility lessen the risk of functional decline. By enhancing strength and flexibility, daily tasks become more manageable and less physically demanding, facilitating an active lifestyle.
Supporting Long-Term Independence
Maintaining strength and mobility is crucial for independence as one ages. The ability to perform day-to-day activities without assistance supports autonomy and a better quality of life.
Psychological and Mental Health Benefits
Physical fitness significantly impacts mental health. Regular exercise and strength training release endorphins, improving mood and reducing the risk of conditions like depression and anxiety.
Long-Term Health Benefits
Increased fitness and strength contribute to better cardiovascular health, improved bone density, and reduced risks of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Adaptability to Life Changes
A physically prepared body allows for better adaptation to life changes, whether dealing with health challenges or the natural process of aging. A strong and mobile body facilitates the ability to navigate these changes more effectively.
Strategic Approach for Maintaining Strength
Anticipating a 15% muscle loss over 10 years, individuals can counteract this decline by gradually increasing their resistance levels in strength training. To maintain their current strength, they should aim to increase the weight they lift by approximately 15% over the next decade. You may not be a gym person (nor was I) but what you do in the gym to build muscle and strength will make life easier outside.
Find an exercise physiologist near you and ask him to help put together a program to help you become 3 times stronger. It’s a small investment in time and a proactive approach to physical fitness can will pave the way for a healthier, stronger, and more fulfilling future.