As someone living in the western world in the 21st century, its fairly safe to assume that you, a member of the average general public, can expect to live beyond the age of 70. As of 2015, life expectancy in the UK stands at a whopping 81.60 year of age. However, knowing all that we do in this day and age, simply living into our 80’s shouldn't be our primary driver. I dare say, people should want more. Imagine for a minute, not simply surviving into old age, but thriving in it. Even twenty years ago the idea might have sounded a little outlandish, however, here we are in 2018 and its a reality which is readily available for all, no longer an impossible dream but an achievable goal.
So how do we do it exactly? The answer is by moving. For years, medical professionals have stressed the importance of the elderly keeping their minds engaged to stave off the ravages of old age. To keep oneself stimulated. Well, as above so below. Keeping the body stimulated right through ones life should be paramount in the minds of every person able to do so. The research is in, and it makes for illuminating reading. The significance of something as seemingly inconsequential as leg strength and its direct correlation to mortality rates should be reason enough for anyone approaching older age to start strengthening and engaging their bodies. Sarcopenia, or the loss of muscle mass through ageing begins in most peoples 30’s, but happens at a significantly higher rate in people who are NOT physically active. Its the difference between 1% and 5% every ten years, which at first might sound like an incremental difference, but, when considered over the course of thirty, forty or even fifty years, it really does add up.
So how do we counter act the problem of sarcopenia? Simply put, we exercise. Or rather, more specifically through the implementation of resistance and strength training. By increasing muscle strength and endurance through the use of weights or resistance bands. Now I’m aware its easy for a strength and conditioning coach to say that people should start hoisting around weights as soon as they can, but in reality, most people, can be more than little intimidated by the idea. Resistance training by its very nature forces a person to directly engage with activities that induce a certain amount of stress. And I’m not saying that its an easy thing to begin. That being said, it doesn't have to be difficult, and the rewards, well, they really do speak for themselves. We know, resistance training can help your neuromuscular system. We know it positivity effects the good hormones we want running through our bodies. We know It can improve an older adult's ability to convert protein to energy, and we know that it is the best policy to help safe guard against potential future injury.
Most people who haven't seen the inside of a gym before are intimidated by the very mention of strength training. However, given the right course of exercise there is absolutely no reason to be afraid. Any good exercise professional worth his salt should be able to design a programme for any individual, immaterial of their experience or therein lack of. I’m a big believer in incremental change as the path to achieving things you didn’t otherwise think possible. The first step you take in any new and uncomfortable situation is often the hardest and for most, there’s very little glory to be found in those initial unsteady baby steps. However in the very act of taking them, in confronting that which makes us scared or nervous, we learn the things we need to take control of them, and once we do that, we open ourselves to the most important of life lessons. That resilience and growth, can only be achieved through embracing that which tests us.