Updated: Jan 16, 2019
The loss of muscle mass
As we age one of the fundamental problems affecting us is the loss of muscle mass.
When we enter our 30's we start to lose muscle mass year on year at a rate that begins to double when we move into our 50's.
With the loss of muscle mass, we start to see a decrease in strength and in our ability to produce muscular power.
As a result, we see a decline in motor neuron function, loss of bone density and a lowering of our metabolism.
The lowering of an individuals metabolism is bad for fat loss, and this is why strength training is such an important factor in losing weight.
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men are at risk for osteoporotic fractures.
Engaging in a sensible strength training program can increase bone and muscle mass by 1-3% per annum in women and even more in men. The bones adapt to increased training loads and the need to support larger muscles. With inactivity, the opposite happens, and we begin to lose bone density.
Notably, our ability to generate power recedes at an even greater rate than muscular strength.
The loss of strength and in particular power has an impact on our ability to perform everyday tasks such as getting up, going down to the ground, climbing stairs, walking, pushing, pulling, picking up things and fall prevention.
Maintaining or developing lean muscle mass, strength and power is vital to our independence, quality of life, athletic performance and health.
The loss of muscle mass, strength and our reduced ability to produce power is mostly due to us becoming less active. More specifically, due to not performing activities that require higher levels of strength and or a combination of strength and speed.
Spend time under load
Resistance training is the most effective way to maintain or build lean muscle mass.
This becomes more and more important with age.
This will have a more valuable impact on movement quality, sports performance and aging gracefully countless isolation exercises ever will.
Joint health & mobility
The loss of elasticity in connective tissue
As we age, we tend to lose the elasticity in our connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, fascia) resulting in less joint mobility.
The loss of elasticity has a negative impact on our ability to produce powerful movements efficiently and effectively.
Movement - The link to joint health
Our joint mobility is reduced mostly due to us becoming less active and tending not to use our joints through their full range of motion as we age.
Movement about a joint is required to drive nutrients from synovial fluid throughout the joint. Synovial fluid also acts as a shock absorber and lubricates the joints.
When we stop moving a joint through its full range of motion, we prevent oxygen and essential nutrients from being supplied throughout the joint.
This could result in the death of healthy cells in the cartilage of the joint. Cartilage supplies a smooth surface for the joint and is capable of absorbing considerable force.
The nervous system and movement
The nervous system ultimately controls our range of motion of our joints.
The nervous system adjusts to our daily activities, such as long periods of sitting, exercise choices, the technique we use when exercising, even to the way we move when we are injured.
When you suddenly try to exceed the new adjusted range of motion, as we do in stretching exercises, the nervous system takes over preventing you from extending past the new adjusted range.
I focus on flexibility and mobility exercises that help me regain control of muscular tension and length where it is needed. Read more about Muscular Imbalances
Exercises that fail to use a joint's full range of motion have shown to have a negative impact on the joint's long-term range of motion.
Exerting forces throughout the joints full range of motion and implementing wherever possible multiple-joint exercises (Squats) will be beneficial to improving joint mobility and joint health.
For lifelong fitness, I find that flexibility exercises, mobility drills and training the fundamental human movements to be the most effective way to increase the level of flexibility and optimise joint mobility and stability.
Inappropriate stretching can permanently deform tendons and ligaments and be harmful to joint integrity and health.
When stretching avoid feeling the stretch at the joint to prevent the chances of permanent damage.
Note that both inflexibility and hyper-flexibility can increase risks for injury as can imbalances in flexibility.
There is an optimal amount of flexibility for an activity, avoid increasing flexibility in a way that may destabilise a joint.
Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional prior to beginning any diet or exercise program or taking any dietary supplement. The content on this website is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or to replace a relationship with a qualified healthcare professional.