Today is dedicated to women everywhere and we so blessed to be surrounded by so many strong, caring and powerful women within our community at Northside Allied Health. So much so that we have two classes specifically dedicated to just them, one for new mums regaining their strength after they have their baby and another ‘Pilates Plus’, for women aged 50years and beyond focussing on strength, balance and function. So why is it so important for women to move at every age?
Use it or Lose it!
When we are young we are laying down the foundations, setting ourselves up for a long life of mobility, control and independence, as the saying goes ‘use it or lose it’and that definitely rings true in regards to our function and mobility as we age. For example our bone density peak is often seen between the ages of 25-30years old, but after 40 years we see this start to decline. The good news is that through good diet and exercise we can really help arrest this deterioration. Our bone, joint and muscle structures all respond well to stress. Place small stresses on them through exercises and they will in turn flow through a physiological chain reaction of growth contributing to strong bones, joint structures and muscles. However consistency is key, as we get stronger we need to increase that load and continue the process going, keep the body working and continue to get stronger and more stable in our movement. Remove the stress and the opposite will happen, we will see wastage of these structures and this is when our function, control, mobility and independence can dwindle.
Why is it so hot in here?
Menopause generally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 years old and can play havoc on several areas of a womens health including mental health, bone density and muscle health. By the end of puberty men have 50% more calcium stores than women, calcium absorption is improved by the hormone estrogen meaning that during and after menopause we see rapid bone loss, women can lose 40% of their bone mass during these years! Making this stage of life one of the most important times to move!
Reproduced from J Bernstein, ed: Musculoskeletal Medicine. Rosemont, IL, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2003.
Standing Stronger for longer!
2-3 muscle strengthening sessions, inclusive of pelvic floor exericses, per week are the recommendations to get the best physiological results and will hold huge benefits for function and mobility. Including balance exerises into the weekly routine is highly recommended for women to help prevent falls and improve strength and independence.
Our top 4 daily exercises to a long life of independence!!
So with all that said what is the best type and dosage of exercise for women? The recommendations don’t necessarily change with age. We need to be incorporating a mix of cardio (30mins on most days), strengthening (2-3sessions per week), balance and flexibility throughout our week. Here are our top 4 exercises to include into your week.
Walking is the easiest mode of cardio for most people and is amazing for our bone and joint function as it is weight bearing kicking off that physiological growth response. Try getting 30mins on 4 or more days per week. If that sounds too much, break it up into more frequent 15 mins bouts.
Sit to stand
One of our favourite strengthening exercises that is fabulous for mobility, function and independence is a simple sit to stand. Simply find your favourite chair (start with a dining chair rather than a couch/cushioned chair) and without using your hands push through your heals and come to standing. Then slowly return to seated with control, avoid crashing into the chair. If you get pain through your knees try starting with a higher stool to reduce the range. Perform 3 sets of 5 repititions gradually increasing to 10 repetitions.
Heal toe walking
This is a great one for balance, try doing this every day on the way to the toilet, or the way back. Place the right heal right directly in front of the left toe as if you are walking along a line and step forward and repeat on the left side. Do this for 5 meters and increase as you feel balanced. If you feel unstable keep the feet a little wider and gradually bring them into a straight line as you improve.
Incorporate this into your daily routine when brushing your teeth or making a cup of tea. Stand with your feet hip width apart and come up onto your toes, lower your heals and tap to the ground without putting weight through them and return up onto your toes. Repeat 3 sets of 5 repetitions increasing to 10 repetitions.
These exercises are appropriate for any age and are some amazing habits to work on including into your life. Exercise practiced regularly will benefit fat loss, mental health, muscle, bone and joint strength and function and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. So lets keep being the amazing women we are by moving regularly for ourselves, our quality of life and our independence.