November is here, and as the days rapidly get shorter, early signs of winter are upon us. With the onset of cold and snowy weather, it can be tempting to cozy up inside near a fireplace with a hot drink and get into the festive spirit. Transitioning into the cold Calgary winter is challenging for many of us, but during these times, it is especially important to get out of our comfort zone and continue working hard to push toward our fitness goals. During the winter, it is easy to neglect one of the keystones of overall health and wellness, movement. Movement is an essential part of our daily lives, and it is difficult to function without it.
In our modern society, the need for movement is limited. You can get all the food, drinks, and entertainment you desire with the touch of a button from the comfort of your home. During these long sedentary periods, strength, cardiovascular fitness, muscle mass, and bone density are constantly withering away.
Physical dysfunction is one of the leading causes of dependence in old age. As we continue to age, we constantly battle against time. We must work hard to maintain the strength and physical function we are used to and work even harder to improve it. Mobility training is one of the best things one can do to facilitate healthy aging and positively impact healthspan.
Mobility is often confused with flexibility. Flexibility can be defined as the ability of a joint or muscle to move passively through its range of motion, whereas mobility is the ability to move actively through the range of motion. It’s not enough to be able to move through that range of motion for a given joint. You want to be strong throughout the range of motion to limit the risk of injury. Mobility can be improved through each and every joint by focusing on the muscles around those areas through the entire range of motion to provide strength through movement. Our clinical exercise team at Preventous is well-equipped to assess your state of mobility and develop optimal training programs to help you improve.
Aside from mobility training, some other focus areas include bone density and muscle mass, two components of our physical health that are highly vulnerable to decline with age. Large-scale population studies have revealed that bone mineral density constantly declines in men after age 35 and women after age 40. The rate of decline is especially high in women during the perimenopausal period. As bones continue to weaken with age, risk of injury increases rapidly. The same case is seen in muscle mass, with a steady decrease observed after age 50. As we get weaker, the risk of falling increases drastically. A slight fall that is harmless to an adolescent can cause a fatal hip fracture in an elderly individual with low bone density. This highlights the importance of assessing bone mineral density and muscle mass early in life to understand your trajectory and undergo effective management to reduce the risks later in life.
It’s important to be active at least a few times a week to combat this common decline in muscle loss and bone mineral density. Resistance training is one of the best ways to provide the stimulus to bolster both muscle and bone health, two key requirements to maintain mobility into old age. It’s never too late to benefit from strength training as it is one of the most impactful ways for the elderly to maintain physical function.
Dr. Rohan Bissoondath,