Body & Soul: Muscle Mass

Body & Soul: Muscle Mass

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Body & Soul: Muscle Mass

by Agnes Ramsay

Age-appropriate strengthening exercises for vulnerable areas

As we age, downsizing (on all levels) is something that most of us look at quite seriously. We find that we don’t need as much space, or all the stuff that we’ve accumulated. In our decision to downsize, we may factor in the preference for single-level living, as opposed to a two-storey residence. While none of us can predict what our requirements might be in the latter part of our lives, having stairs might not be a bad thing. You might be missing an ideal, stay-fit option by going up and down them everyday. Even in her early 90s, my mother would comment on the fact that running up and down the stairs was great exercise.

EXERCISING WITH LIMITATIONS

Arthritic hips, sore knees and bad backs are definitely deterrents when it comes to exercising, and these conditions limit our ability to do certain types of activities. Still, it’s important that we work our muscles at any given opportunity and keep active. Staying fit requires a positive attitude, along with an understanding of how to make adjustments in order to accommodate life’s changes.

Check with your healthcare provider before doing certain exercises, and never exercise through pain.

BACK TO BACK

Resting isn’t always the answer to back problems. To strengthen the back, the muscles need to be activated.

Photo, bigstockphoto.com
Photo, bigstockphoto.com

PARTIAL CRUNCHES: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your hands behind your head. Gently lift your head and your shoulders towards the ceiling. This is a small move that won’t put excess strain on your lower back or neck. Never do standard sit ups.

BIRD DOGS: To gently work the other side of your core, go on your hands and knees. Tighten the core by lifting one leg straight up behind you, and the opposite arm in front of you. Stabilize. Don’t let your back sag or sway. Hold each side for five seconds, and work up to five rounds.

WALL SITTING: This is a great way to exercise your legs, without stressing the spine. It’s also a suitable pose for those with arthritis. Stand 10 to 12 inches away from the wall, and lean back until your back is flat against it. Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold for a 10 count. Start with five repetitions and work up to 12.

ARTHRITIS-FRIENDLY OPTIONS

  • Walk on a flat surface, preferably in the shallow end of a pool. No running.
  • Ride a stationary bike on the easiest setting, and vary the intensity – slightly.
  • Many yoga poses are helpful when doing strength training for your upper body.
  • If you have arthritis in your hips, do not do exercises that cause you to move your leg away from your body.
  • If you have arthritis in your knees, avoid exercises that require quick, lateral movements, such as jumping and racquet sports.
  • You’ll experience more resistance when you exercise in a pool, as water’s buoyancy virtually eliminates the effects of gravity – supporting 90 per cent of the body’s weight for reduced impact and greater flexibility.
Agnes Ramsay is a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach specializing in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.

agnes.ramsay@xbodyworld.com


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