By the time we are in our 80s we can have lost up to half of our muscle mass! Getting out of a chair can become a real challenge (as difficult as someone in their 40s getting out of a chair using only one leg!). Not being able to get out of a chair is a sign of sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle in the elderly that leads to frailty. It’s a subtle decline, so you might not notice you’ve started using your arms to get out of a chair, or flopping down into a chair without any control.
It’s never too late to address strength loss. Studies have shown that benefits can be made from strength training into your 90s and beyond. If you are under 60, ask your parents or grandparents to have a go at the following leg strength measure. Compare your / your parents 30 seconds score with the recommended aims for your / their age group, detailed after the exercise description.
Using a sturdy dining chair, sit forward on the chair so you can have your heels under your knees, legs hip width or wider. Sit up tall and tighten tummy muscles slightly. Rock forwards and swiftly push up through your feet, lifting your chest, to stand. Try not to use your hands to help, but do so if you feel safer. With practise you’ll be able to do it with your arms across your chest. Lower back down safely, aiming your hips backwards, and repeat as many times as you can in 30 seconds. If your knees are complaining, put a cushion on the chair to increase height.
Research has shown these to be scores to aim for:-
Women 60-69 = 15, 70-74 = 14, 75-79 = 13, 80-84 = 12, 85-90 = 11, 90-94 = 9
Men 60-64 = 17, 65-69 = 16, 70-74 = 15, 75-79 = 14, 80-84 = 13, 85-89 = 11, 90-94 = 9
Use the sit to stand measure as a daily exercise to increase leg strength. If your score was below the figures above you will soon notice an improvement. Maybe push yourself to go for one minute.