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Essential stretching exercises for senior strength

Preserving and building muscle strength is one of the things we should prepare for as we age. You either use your muscles or lose it. In fact, by the age 40, adults naturally lose 8% of their muscles every decade. By 70, the rate of muscle loss increases to about 15% which means 24% of your muscles could be gone by 70. It is therefore important to keep making your muscles work because they respond to it by getting stronger.1,2

Strong muscles help seniors maintain their independence, perform everyday tasks such as lifting grocery bags or reaching into a higher cupboard; reduce risk of falling, and improve overall balance, coordination and mobility.2

The best way to battle natural muscle decline as we age (also called sarcopenia) is by getting the right nutrition and enhancing one’s strength and flexibility. The latter can be achieved by doing regular simple stretching exercises.1,3

Seniors should try to stretch major muscles groups for at least 10 minutes, two days a week.

Moreover, they should perform flexibility exercises on all days that cardiovascular or resistance training exercise occurs, if possible.The National Institutes of Health recommend including some of these stretches in your fitness routine.3

  1. Neck Stretch
    • Stretch the neck by slowly bringing your chin toward your chest and turning your head side to side.
    • Hold each position for 15 seconds. 
  2. Shoulder and Upper Arm Stretch
    • Stretch your shoulders and arms by holding a towel in one hand over your head and letting it drape down behind your head and back.
    • Grab the other end of the towel with your other hand and gently pull down until you feel a stretch.
  3. Lower Back Stretch
    • Stretch your lower back by lying on your back, knees bent and feet together. Keep feet flat on the floor.
    • Keeping knees together, lower your legs to one side, twisting your torso until you feel a stretch. Hold and repeat on the other side.
  4. Hip Stretch
    • Stretch your hips by lying on your back, bringing one knee out to the side of your body.
    • Rest your foot against your opposite leg and gently push down on the bent knee until you feel a stretch.
  5. Ankle Stretch
    • Stretch your ankles by sitting in a chair and slowly moving your foot up and down and side to side.
    • Hold each position 30 seconds and repeat on the other foot.

In conclusion, muscle loss can be slowed down by keeping an active lifestyle and consuming a well-balanced, nutrient-packed diet. It is recommended to take 3 servings of protein-rich foods found in poultry, egg, fish, milk, tofu, and nutritional supplements such as Ensure.1,2

Ensure contains high-quality protein along with nutrients and HMB, also called beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, a muscle-preserving ingredient that works with protein to help preserve muscles.

 

References:

https://abbottfamily.com.sg/articles/active-aging/preserve-your-strength-now#
https://ensure.com/blog/expert-advice/muscle-story
https://www.healthline.com/health/senior-health/stretching-exercises#1