Is it Ever Too Late to Get Stronger?Oct 18, 2021
Is it too late ?
When it comes to strength training and aging, it is very easy to wonder, when is it ever too late to get stronger? Even in my late 50’s I sometimes wonder, “is it too late?” Right now, I can’t stand on one leg, bend my knee, and touch the floor. I used to be able to do this just before the pandemic and with the recent addition of my early morning workouts, I am almost back to my original strength. It surprised me how much strength I had lost in just one year.
But, rather than ponder, let’s just get to some science.
For this post, I’ll keep it to one early study. I hope to stimulate the pondering of “how” to get stronger, not “if” one can get stronger.
Back in 1994 , Maria A Fiatarone et. al (June 23, 1994 N Engl J Med 1994; 330:1769-1775) showed that in a group of 100 seniors, with a mean age of 87, that several things improved when compared to the non-exercise group:
- Muscle strength increased 113%
- Gait / walking velocity increased 11 %, but declined 3 % in the non-exercise group.
- Stair climbing power increased 28%
And, this was encouraging . . .
“The changes in muscle strength after exercise were unrelated to age, sex, medical diagnosis, or functional level”
Read for yourself : Here’s the link : https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJM199406233302501?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub++0www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
While illness, arthritis, pain, and even isolation, can expedite weakness. Augmenting muscle activity with exercise, along with nutrition, are the two most controllable factors to improve strength.
So what did it take?
The exercise program for the study conducted in 1994 consisted of 45 minute sessions, 3 times per week, for 10 weeks. It focused on the lower body including the knees and hip extensors since they are so functional.
Fast forward. It’s now 2021 and we know so much more about reversing weakness in later years of life.
So much more.
I will save some cool, more current, studies for a later blog post.
Old-school resistance training is a viable option, but we also have technology now, like Smart-Fit to combine strength, balance and mental acuity games all into one.
Here’s a link if you want another peak at applications for senior fitness and wellness.
So, imagine doing that 3 times per week for 45 minutes for 10 weeks.
Well, at Evergreen you can do that, guided by professionals. Year round, not just 10 weeks. We have a membership based “PT-Lab” where we have classes or 1:1 training for strength and balance.
If you read my last blog post you read about my dad, 87, who fell recently while walking his dog. He was on the ground for 20 or 30 minutes before a high school athlete saw him and assisted him to his feet. I wish that he lived closer by to be a part of our PT Lab, but he visited recently so we did some work.
Dad, (Bob) is fairly healthy. He had a mild heart attack 3 years ago and his hearing isn’t great. The pandemic has taken a toll. He never got covid, but he’s weaker, slower, and a little discouraged. But . . . he didn’t hesitate to push this football sled. I feel in some way it “connected’ him to his Iowan past.
We need to work on standing upright more, not leaning so far back. But, he did it.
This is mom. Marilyn. Those who knew of Evergreen in our founding years, know her. She greeted you with Jolly Ranchers and a smile. She’s had both hips replaced, revised, and most recently rotator cuff repair. She’s been recommended for a back surgery (stenosis) but her mean son, moi, won’t let her. She’s fine. She just needs to get stronger. And at 84, she can. I was super impressed with how well she did on our Erg-Ski.
So, I have several personal reasons to prove you can get stronger at later years in life.
What’s better is that science agrees with me. Now, I just have to work on logistics. But if you live less than 3 hours away, maybe a membership to the PT Lab would be helpful to getting you stronger. We’d be honored to assist you.
Cheers to lifetime, smart, keep going health,
Oh, and email me.
Dave is the owner and founder of Evergreen Physical Therapy Specialists. He and his wife Tammy, an RN at CHLA, opened Evergreen over 15 years ago to provide the community of Pasadena with specialized and compassionate care. David has over 25 years of experience in orthopedics, neuro-rehabilitation, and pediatric physical therapy.
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