One of the essential health skills as you age is your strength. There are two important types of strength to build; bone strength and muscle strength. Understanding how to build both will keep you moving and active.
Gravity requires us to have sufficient strength to haul our bodies out of bed in the morning. It requires us to use muscles to stay balanced upright as we walk. Gravity also pulls on our bones making them respond to the weight they bare. Therefore to maintain a good healthy lifestyle means that we need to keep our muscles we use daily very strong.
How do you know you are at the right level of strength? You have to be able to get up and down many times a day easily, and do daily activities with out straining or getting sore.
As we age, muscles that used to regenerate quickly have more difficulty. Sarcopenia is the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass (0.5-1% loss per year after the age of 25), quality, and strength associated with aging. Sarcopenia is experienced first by a decrease in the size of the muscle, along with a reduction in muscle tissue quality, leading to progressive loss of muscle function and frailty. You feel it after a sedentary winter when you start your spring gardening; using muscles you haven’t used in a while – you get sore.
Lack of exercise is thought to be a significant risk factor for sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is linked to poor balance, gait speed, falls, and fractures. Sarcopenia can be thought of as a muscular equivalent of osteoporosis, which is loss of bone. Exercise is of benefit in treatment of sarcopenia and osteoporosis especially with resistance exercise.
Many people turn to the gym and circuit training to do isolated muscle strengthening on machines that, for example, strengthen muscles that flex the elbow. This is great for building strength in that isolated muscle group, but it may not translate into smooth, strong, balanced movements in your daily life.
Research into yoga poses has found that bone strengthening starts around 10 seconds and continues for up to 70 seconds. Muscle building starts around the 90-second mark. Therefore you can achieve both goals of strengthening bones and muscles by holding a pose for about 90 seconds.
Yoga practice is one way of combining both isolated muscle strengthening and coordinated, graceful strong movement. A balanced yoga practice includes standing poses, backbends, forward bends, and twists; a wide range of poses that will build strength in the muscles and bones throughout your entire body. Daily activity in an exercise program with yoga can help you keep moving and active.