Many of us know that the effects of aging can cause a reduction in muscles mass. This can translate into postural changes that effect our balance and ability to have strength.
Generally, most of us believe that as long as you are walking upright, your legs will be strong. NOT TRUE!
In fact, it is well documented and researched that the better our leg strength and muscle mass is as we age, the better our balance, heart and brain will be. Even a longer life!
Here are some enlightening studies:
Older women who have strong legs are likely to fare better when it comes to aging of the brain, a decade long study showed. A study of 150 twins (ie 300 women) aged 43 to 73 years showed the twin who had more leg power at the start of the study had fewer brain changes associated with aging measured after 10years. The lead researcher Dr. Claire Steves; “when it comes to cognitive aging, leg strength was the strongest factor that had an impact on our study”.
Another study analyzed the strength of the quadricep muscles (front leg) of 932 people aged 57 to 74 years who were at one time hospitalized for a heart attack. They found the incidence rate of subsequent heart failure was higher at 22.9/1000 (persons with low quad strength) vs 10.2/1000 (persons with high quad strength). (Heart failure 2023 Scientific Congress, European Society of Cardiology).
A study looked at balance with 1702 people ages 51 to 75 years. Each was asked to test by balancing on one leg for 10secs or more. About 1/5 failed the test to balance for at least 10secs. After being monitored for 10 years follow up, 7% of all the people studied had died. The proportion of those who failed the balance test and died (within 10yrs) was 13% higher than those who had passed the test. Also, researchers found that those who were unable to complete the balance test, were at an 84% higher risk of death from any cause. (British Journal of Sports Med. Jun 2022)
These are a few studies about leg health showing how beneficial it is to work on those muscles completely. Obviously not everyone does, in fact there are many reasons people have too not:
- I did not realize I could and that it was so important
- I walk, isn’t that enough?
- What should I do, and how can I get help doing it?
- I have a knee issue, I have a hip issue
- If I cannot walk well, how can I improve my legs?
- I did a lot of sports in my youth so I should be good, right?
- I’m too old. I’m too young.
Whatever the reason, the fact remains ‘its all in the legs’ especially for aging adults. If you have an issue holding you back, or you simply enjoy guidance and access to solid knowledge, ask for help.
In a short time, you will balance and walk with more confidence than ever before, and improve your health doing it!