Modified and translated by CFJA
The most effective way to prevent physical strength decline and muscle mass decline in your 70’s exists in keeping active in daily living!
Those who are in their 70’s and still have busy lives find it difficult to devote time to exercise. Also, those who are not good at exercising may not have the motivation to do it.Through our daily clinical practices, we encourage our patients to focus on their daily activities. For example, Japanese people take off their shoes before going up to their houses. They take off their shoes, squat down, and change the direction of their shoes. If this action is done without fail each time, it results in strength training of the lower limb muscles. Also, when lifting an object from the floor, instead of bending at the waist to pick it up, bend your knees and hips firmly before lifting it up, which will also train your lower limbs. Also, sweeping the yard or shoveling snow can also be muscle training. These actions help to develop muscle mass in lower limbs.
Western-style lifestyles, in which people live in chairs and sleep in beds, require little movement to support themselves and stand up, a lifestyle that can easily affect muscle weakness in the lower limbs.
In addition, a 13% decrease in the flexor muscle group of the upper limb mainly means a decrease in finger strength. This can lead to difficulty in picking up and putting down objects. To prevent this, it is a simple muscle training exercise to try to put down a glass, a newspaper, or a book quietly and not to make a noise every time you put them down. When people put things down and it is done with a rough or loud technique it means that they are having muscle strength decline or already losing muscle strength throughout their body.
Simply changing the way you move and place things can help prevent muscle weakness. Other issues that people in their 70’s face is the ability to wash dishes and clean them effectively, and impacts to their ability to dress, button dress shirts or maneuver closures on clothing. They often prefer to wear clothes that do not require buttoning. Men tend to be less likely than women to do things like washing dishes, sewing, and drying clothes, so they have less opportunity to use their fingertips in their daily lives, which is another factor that affects the decline in fingertip strength. In today’s world, men and women tend to do household work more equally, but many people in their 70’s today have lived most of their lives differently than today. As a result, many men may be experiencing muscle weakness in their fingertips. We believe that precisely carrying out the movements that we use our fingers every day will help prevent muscle weakness in upper limbs.
Decreased respiratory function is a factor in physical strength decline
One of the biggest features of physical strength decline people see in their 70’s is the decline in respiratory function. Along with muscle weakness, many people recognize this decline.
It is said that the lung capacity declines to about 40-50% of a 30-year-old at age 80. However, since subjective symptoms are unlikely to appear until the “one-second volume” of respiratory function falls below 1 liter, people without underlying lung disease do not experience breathing difficulties that interfere with their daily lives.
One-second volume is the amount of air exhaled during the first second of “forced vital capacity”. Forced vital capacity is the maximum amount of air you can forcibly exhale from your lungs after fully inhaling at once. In other words, how much you can exhale in one second determines how difficult it is to breathe. Therefore, if you are at rest and taking deep breaths, you will not feel a decrease in respiratory function.
When we feel a decrease in respiratory function, it is when we are engaged in sustained activities (movements). One way to analyze this is to use the “exercise tolerability evaluation method”. Exercise tolerability refers to the limit of how much exercise a person can tolerate. One method of evaluating exercise tolerability is the “6-minute walk test”. This is a test of walking as fast as possible in 6 minutes, and the distance walked in 6 minutes. The following items can be evaluated by this test.
- The degree to which the disease impairs the person’s ability to exercise in daily life
- What level of exercise (walking speed, etc.) is appropriate.
- Severity of respiratory diseases such as interstitial pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Whether oxygen inhalation is necessary or not
- Whether the oxygen level is appropriate
According to a survey in 6-minute walk test by the Japan Sports Agency (results of the Physical Fitness and Athletic Ability Survey in 2015), is as follows
- 65-69 years old 620.19m (total 829 steps)
- 70-74 years 605.11m (total 846 steps)
- 75-79 years 579.19m (total 840 steps)
- 65-69 years 590.32m (total 833 steps)
- 70-74 years 565.59m (total 818 steps)
- 75-79 years 530.97m (total 807 steps)
It is clear that the distance that can be walked is getting shorter with each passing year. This means that the speed of walking is slowing down. The “6-minute walk test” is a test to see if you are getting enough oxygen into your body and if your muscles are being fully utilized. Simply, it tells us if our cardiopulmonary function is working properly, which is a big difference when comparing people in their late 60’s and late 70’s. This data indicates that efforts should be needed to minimize the decline in respiratory function.