One in five elders has muscle weakness

A new study shows that about 80 percent of people over age 80 have adequate muscle strength, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About one in five is in the weak strength category. The study was released Jan. 28, 2015.

Loss of muscle strength is common in elders and can impair the daily functions of life. For example, researchers said, more than half of people over 60 who had weak muscle strength had difficulty getting up from a chair by themselves.

Fading muscle strength is linked to walking problems and “an increased risk of death,” said co-authors Anne Looker and Chia-Yih Wang of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The researchers tracked government data for 2011 to 2012 from the ongoing U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, looking at information from physical exams and tests of grip strength.

The study found that women tend to be weaker in muscle strength, and Asians and Hispanics tended to fare worse than whites.

Keep in mind that you can try to maintain the strength that you have and work toward getting stronger by being more active, eating a nutritious diet and following the advice of your health care provider. Always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. One geriatric doctor said the recent study supports “other studies which have shown that older adults can successfully maintain an optimum physical condition in their later years through good overall preventive care, nutrition and exercise.”

Strength training also will help ease the symptoms of conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, back pain and depression. One way to increase your strength is to use resistance bands.

Resistance bands, used for rehabilitation therapy as well as regular exercise, are stretchy elastic bands that come in different levels of tension, from light or easy to heavy or difficult. Beginners use a light band, then move to a stronger band as they progress.

Area seniors are welcome to attend Arkansas City Presbyterian Manor’s free Thera-Band strengthening class at 1 p.m. every Monday. Thera-Band is the name of the leading exercise band company. Trained staff will provide safe and effective exercises focusing on improving strength. Resistance bands will be provided. A balance class follows at 1:30 p.m., and you are welcome to attend that, as well.

Please call Lori Peters at 620-506-0375 if you have questions about the classes.