WASHINGTON — Everyone feels the aches and pains as they age, but physical fitness is even more important to avoid injury. Exercise also helps keep the aging heart healthier, and keeps your metabolism active to maintain a healthy weight.
There is also a faster decrease on muscle mass in seniors that leads to weaker bones which affect balance, and that leads to falls.
The decrease in muscle mass is called sarcopenia. According to the National Institutes of Health we lose 3-8 percent of muscle mass, strength, and function per decade after the age of 30, but the decline is much higher after the age of 60.
Fitness Manager Leslie LaPlace of Goodwin House Incorporated says, "Particularly for older adults, it can help reduce the risk for chronic diseases like osteoporosis and heart disease."
Goodwin House is a non-profit senior living and healthcare services organization in Northern Virginia. They serve more than 1,400 older adults and part of their program aims to help residents and members stay active healthy and mobile.
So LaPlace shares a couple of simple exercises that can make a big difference for seniors. For instance, do a few squats with a study chair.
Sit on the edge of a couch and get up, then sit down. Do this several times to help keep the legs strong.
"Doing squats keeps that lower body nice and strong, it can also help with activities of daily living such as getting up and down out of a chair, on or off the toilet, and in and out of a car," adds LaPlace.
Check out the senior exercise demo on Great Day Washington
Next, maintain those muscles in the back that will keep you standing nice and straight. You can use either a fitness band, or simply a pair of canned veggies. Sit on a chair and put the band handles or cans in both hands .
LaPlace says, "seated or standing, sitting on the edge of the chair... hinge slightly forward at the hips, arms by your side, then pull back, squeezing your back muscles together."
As a note, before you try these techniques for the first time make sure that you are accompanied by someone.