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Posted on 07-07-2014

AGE-RELATED CHANGES, LIMITATIONS & DISABILITIES

The Role of Resistance Training 

Drs. Brett & Nancy Lemire

Want to remain active? ... Who doesn’t??

In past blogs, we’ve addressed muscle-mass variations related to numbers of birthday candles … and their impact on mobility, disability and longevity. Our intent now is to define and explain the pertinent medical terminology – providing you with a clear perspective as to what’s happening now, what could happen in the future and how to abate the inevitable happenings. As the present time, your musculoskeletal system is screaming for your attention!   

Human Growth Hormone [HGH]

A production of the pituitary gland, this is one of the main anabolic (building) hormones in the body. The further we get from puberty, the  more dramatic the reduction of HGH production (see graph below).  According to some experts, by age 30 Human Growth Hormone  is only at20% of their original youthful peak. This drop then continues at an average of 13½% with each passing decade … largely attributed to the lack of physical activity.

To further explain these stats, let’s look at them from the standpoint of functionality. A healthy 15-year-old could retain the same amount of strength until age 30. At that point, when Father Time begins collecting his toll, people choose more sedentary lifestyles and HGH deterioration occurs exponentially. This, in essence, creates The Perfect Storm. In other words, as the result of these processes, a 60-year-old cannot possibly maintain half the robust vitality once experienced three decades before.    

Somatopause

Most of us are familiar in some way, shape or form, with the term menopause. For those who haven’t lived through its sometimes uncomfortable and always life-altering effects, we still are familiar with the term through high school sex education, health classes and the media.  Most of us, however, have no awareness of the term somatopause. With middle age, this term refers to the gradual drops in secretion of Human Growth Hormone and Testosterone. Over time and in combination with lack of adequate exercise, we are faced with some unwanted consequences:

Increased

  • Adipose Tissue [Fat]
  • Cardiovascular Risk
  • Muscle Mass & Atrophy
  • Cholesterol Levels [LDL]
  • Aches & Pains

Decreased

  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Overall Strength
  • Endurance & Fatigue
  • Desire 
  • Inability to Perform Tasks

Want to curtail these Quality-of-Life challenges? ... Who doesn’t?

Dynapenia and Sarcopenia

A recent addition to medical vocabulary is dynapenia, which means lack of strength, power and/or force. This often has a causal relationship with neurological and/or muscular diseases. In contrast, having delved into sarcopenia in past blogs, we know that its meaning is a marked lessening of muscle fibers. In summary:

  • Dynapenia: Reduction in strength, power and/or force reduction
  • Sarcopenia: Loss of muscle mass (decrease cross section of muscle) 

Eventual Results

  • Limitations: Restrictions in performing normal physiological [bodily] & psychological [mental] functions, aka Activities of Daily Living [ADLs]
  • Impairments: Dysfunctions attributed to significant structural abnormalities in specific body systems
  • Disabilities: More ADLs leading to complete inability

Both dynapenia and sarcopenia stem from the decreased retention and manufacturing of HGH as we age. Without attention – through movement and exercise -- our muscles, bones and joints just create and quicken the downward spiral of limitations, impairments and disabilities.

There’s no time like the present to get serious!

Osteopenia and Osteoporosis

In aging females, we are all more cognizant of lowered estrogen levels and their direct link to changes in bone-mass density or bone-mineral density [BMD]. Don’t be fooled: Males are not immune to bone- density declination, either. In fact, low testosterone and HGH in aging men are interconnected to dynapenia and sarcopenia -- both strength and muscle loss – putting them at risk for falls and possible fractures.   

Therefore, both sexes need up-to-date bone-density assessments. The testing process, a simple scan, is referred to as DEXA [Dual-Energy Xray Absorptiometry]. Ask your GP for a referral to the Department of Radiology for a baseline bone-density interpretation. In order to stave off these delineated problems, one must: adhere to a healthy, well-balanced diet; vitamin supplements, if necessary; and a steady, safe and effective weight-bearing exercise program.

This section is devoted to describing these two conditions:

  • Osteopenia: Commonly seen in people over 50, this is lower-than-average diminished bone density.

  • Osteoporosis: Osteopenia serves as the precursor to this fragile bone disease, which is characterized by loss of bone mass caused by a deficiency in calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and/or other vitamins and minerals.

Conclusion

Our entire musculoskeletal system -- the miraculous carriage which allows us the stability to stand, walk and function throughout life – will eventually become compromised by loss of muscle mass and bone density. That’s a fact.

Want to defer the onset? The obvious answer: Who doesn’t?

Don't wait to get into the game!

We hope to hang on to our ADLs as long as possible and perhaps eliminate altogether those serious, yet alarmingly common, fall injuries. The Great News: These goals are realistic when incorporating resistance-training exercises into your present everyday life. In the next blog, we’ll pinpoint specific regions of the body and how best to target them with easy movements. You’ll be pleased with the choices [including stretch bands and classes for their proper usage] that we have to offer here at Universal Chiropractic Spine & Sport. Till then, let’s get moving!

Best in Health,

Dr. Brett & Dr. Nancy Lemire

Sources:

Somatopause: State-of-the-Art Minerva Endocrinol. 36(3):243-55. 2011 Sept

  • Marcell TJ, Hawkins SA, Wiswell RA. Leg Strength Declines with Advancing Age Despite Habitual Endurance Exercise in Active Older Adults. J Strength Cond Res. 28(2):504-13. Pubmed Search DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182a952cc. 2014 Feb

Suzanne Dodd said:

Great summary. Good motivational material for an aging body to understand the why of daily exercise. Thank you

2014-08-07 08:17:56

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