Low-Impact Activity Can Help Reduce Sarcopenia and Risk of Fractures
Sarcopenia is the technical term for what most of us refer to as muscle loss. Individuals over 40 may start to experience this phenomenon, and many will simply assume it’s a natural part of the aging process. Surprisingly, it’s not. As a recent article from the well-respected Andrews Institute explains, muscle loss is not something to be inevitably expected. Instead, it’s a direct result of inactivity.
So what’s the answer to reducing sarcopenia? Activity of any kind. Yet there’s an underlying issue: Some people cannot safely perform land-based activities because of the following:
- They are too unstable on their feet due to medical conditions, such as neurological problems.
- They are afraid of falling.
- They are on blood thinners and losing their balance on land could lead to severe or fatal issues.
- They have chronic pain and find most movement, even the activities of daily living (ADLs), challenging.
For men and women who can relate to those concerns, engaging in any type of activity may seem virtually impossible, or at least too difficult to attempt. That’s where hydrotherapy can be a huge benefit to anyone who is aging and wants to avoid the issues created by sarcopenia, such as falling, loss of flexibility and related fatigue.
Hydrotherapy, or exercise in an aquatic environment, such as the free standing HydroWorx 300 Series with an underwater treadmill and resistance jets, presents several advantages over land-based workouts for adults looking to safely increase muscle mass:
- The fear of falling is eliminated because the water provides a stabilizing atmosphere. Buoyancy keeps individuals afloat, even if they make a misstep.
- People who are wheelchair-bound can start building muscle with minimal to no pain even if they cannot stand on land. The HydroWorx 300 Series has a seat option; therefore, exercisers can begin to increase strength even if standing isn’t an option.
- The warm water is soothing, especially for those suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia or similar conditions. Water compresses and massages the skin, soothing the joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. This allows individuals to exercise comfortably for much longer than they can on land.
- The natural water compression also reduces edema, or swelling. Plus, it helps the body move blood, lymphatic fluid and oxygen more efficiently. What’s the benefit of this effect? It gives the exerciser’s organs a healthy, efficient workout. The heart and lungs are better nourished thanks to constant flushing, and this has long-term implications on land.
- People who haven’t run – or comfortably walked – in years can actually begin to stroll, jog or run on an underwater treadmill because their weight is displaced. In fact, up to 80 percent of a person’s weight can be offset. For example, a 200-pound man will feel like he weighs around 40 pounds in an aquatic therapy pool if the water is kept at chest height. He may be able to actually cover a mile – or several miles – by running or walking underwater on the treadmill floor. Research shows this can increase lean muscle mass in the legs when combined with resistance training.
Aging should be celebrated, and the truth about muscle development post-40, 50 and 60 can finally be told: There’s no reason for anyone to give in to age-related sarcopenia and its effects.
To learn more about how warm water therapy can help increase balance and reduce falls, download our free tip sheet today.