As we age, many areas of our senses are affected like eyesight, hearing, and muscle strength. Muscle weakness leads to your legs giving out unexpectedly and causing a fall. With a lessened reaction time, you will also not be able to correct yourself when you fall. However, with motivation, diet changes, and by doing some resistance training, especially your legs, you can regain balance and strength.1, 2
Choosing Protein Wisely
Preventing muscle mass loss as you grow older is the key to having independent living. Getting the right nutrition plays an important role in management of muscle loss. One of the most important micronutrients for muscle building is protein. There are many sources of food that provide protein, the type you consume matters. Make sure the protein is:2, 3
A Dietary Protein: Made up of a variety of amino acids, there are about 20 total. Essential ones must be consumed through food, and nonessentials are the ones the body makes by synthesizing amino acids. Conditional ones are only needed when you are sick or healing from injuries.
The right amount: About 10% to 30% of daily calories should come from protein. That is a ratio of 1.0 to 1.3 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight.
A good source: Make a list of the protein options you like and spread their intake over your meals. Good quality protein can be found in most Myanmar favorite nuts, lean meats, freshwater fish and legumes, but whey provides the best quality. It is high in leucine, an essential amino acid the body needs from food to support muscle health. If you want protein shakes, make sure they are specifically formulated for seniors because many have added sugars and sodium.
Though protein is important, getting a variety of other nutrients supports building muscle strength. To fill in where food cannot, Ensure Gold can help. Formulated with HMB (Hydroxymethylbutyrate, a metabolite of leucine for muscle building), 28 vitamins and minerals, it provides a complete and balanced nutrition to support senior muscle health.4
The Exercises Seniors Should Do
A good healthy diet combined with exercising, especially the legs, you can greatly improve your balance and strength. Here are 5 leg strengthening exercises seniors can do in the comfort of their home.1
- Limb Stance: Hold on to the back of a chair with your chosen hand for steadiness. Bend the knee and lift the opposite leg to your hand on the chair towards your chest. Lift till thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold position for as long as you can and do the same with the other leg and hand set. Goal: Progress to being able to do this without a chair.
- Back leg Raises: Hold onto a chair with both hands. Lean slightly forward as you lift the chosen leg backwards as far up as you can. Hold it up there while keeping legs as straight as you can during lift. Bring the leg back down gently and do this 15 times per leg. Goal: Strengthens lower back area.
- Side leg Raises: Hold onto chair with both hands. Lift the chosen leg sideways as far as comfortable while keeping the eyes forward, back and legs straight. Slowly lower leg and do this 15 times per leg. Goal: Improves hips and lower back strength.
- Toe lift: Holding onto a chair for balance, raise yourself on your toes as if you are trying to look over a wall. Gently lower back down, all the while keeping back straight. Do this 20 times. Goal: improves balance.
- Marching in Place: Stand straight, lift knee of the chosen leg as high as you can while swinging arms. Lower the leg and do the same for the other one. Do this 20 times.