A USA TODAY journalist, Janice Lloyd, reported on October 13, 2012, about a 64 year old woman athlete, Nancy Avitabile, who keeps improving her track record as she gets older. What are her secrets?
First, she swims, bikes and and runs to strengthen her body by cross-training. She offers you and me some tips about how to remedy some of the issues we older persons face as the years pile on.
"Building a strong core as well as strong legs and upper body has been essential to me as I've gotten older. . . Injuries can really set older people back. . . I keep my muscles strong to avoid injuries."
Second, our muscles start to weaken in our 20s and continue on the downward path unless we take action. Athletic trainer Kent Biggerstaff has worked with top-class athletes and has come up with some recommendations for older persons.
Biggerstaff says that many people begin to lose muscle as early as their 20's. Then, we may hurt one leg or ankle and begin to favor it. If we don't correct this situaiton, the weakened muscles get worse and we can endure a more serious injury. Kent suggests a test: "Put your back against the wall with your feet 18 to 20 inches in front of you, squat down part way; lift up your left leg, and hold it off the ground for 15 seconds and then return your foot to the ground." Keep trying to increase the time you can hold up the leg, thereby strengthening the quadriceps, hip muscles and the "glutes." Crunches performed on an exercise ball can also strengthen your stomach muscles, Kent says.
Are you exercising? Are you pushing yourself to keep your leg and ankle muscles strong? What works for you?
Susanne Paul for Global Action on Aging