So as promised here it is – this month’s blog about preventing frailty as we grow older
I hear the terms ‘I’m just getting old’ or ‘I need to slow down’ a great deal in the clinic and actually there is an awful lot that can be done to prevent frailty and mobility deterioration as we get older, this includes strength training and increasing protein intake.
In 2017 frailty recognition became a contractual requirement; this means that those suffering from falls or social isolation due to mobility limitations would be identified and helped. The question being what the best advice was once these individuals had been identified.
What was the best way to prevent or improve frailty?
Now you might be reading this thinking ‘This doesn’t apply to me, I’m not elderly, frail or at risk of those things.’
This is where I urge you to read on because unfortunately ageing is one of life’s great events that no one can prevent. However, we can live to the best of our abilities to enjoy every day, can’t we?
Now the two key factors I mentioned earlier this week were protein supplementation and resistance training. In a Systematic review of the current research (Travers J et al 2018) the studies that used these in their intervention groups found they led to the best improvements in frailty indicators. Now, this doesn’t mean that you all should sign up to a gym and become protein-drinking-lycra-clad gym goers. It is worth thinking about your daily and weekly routines however. Increasing your protein intake in the form of meat, protein supplements or other protein sources helps to maintain muscle structure by way of protein synthesis. As we get old this process become less efficient and slows down so maintaining muscle mass and strength becomes difficult for our bodies.
I should say that I am not a nutritionist or dietician, so I cannot recommend the best amount or form of protein for you to use, here you would need to consult one of the former for recommendations.
The second key factor was resistance training, this is something I am passionate about. Again, we don’t all need to be pumping iron on Muscle Beach to live well into our 80’s, 90’s and so on. BUT what is interesting is that less than 10% of older adults are meeting the current recommendations of activity (Which includes resistance training). Older adults being those over 65.
Current recommendations: 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Two strengthening/resistance sessions per week that work all the major muscle groups and general guidelines to ‘sit less’.
As we age our muscles naturally lose mass (Sarcopenia) this is thought to lead to loss of strength potentially leading to metabolic, physiological and functional impairments. Evidence is now emerging demonstrating that we can alter these processes and delay or even prevent frailty. Trudelle-Jackson et al (2018) found that older adults who met the recommendations for activity performed better in physical performance measures and De Souza Bezerra et al (2018) demonstrated increased strength and performance in older adults who attended a 9-week programme of periodised strengthening.
So, whilst you might think that this doesn’t apply to you, perhaps you don’t fit into that older adult bracket, maybe you already keep fit and active or you don’t want to join a gym, can you honestly say you fulfil the above recommendations? And if not, what’s stopping you?
If you are concerned about current or past injuries, musculoskeletal conditions that you think wouldn’t respond to exercise or generally would like some advice on this topic then get in contact with us!