NEW YORK – Over the past several years, experts have increasingly recognised the importance of building power – using muscles in explosive bursts – for healthy ageing.
Power helps you heave a bag of mulch into the boot and allows your arms or legs to stop or catch yourself when you slip. While strength helps you sit down in a chair, power brings you out of it.
For people older than 65, one of the easiest tools to measure how much power you have, especially in your legs, is the sit-to-stand test. Sit in a chair with a straight back and no arm rests and cross your arms over your chest, resting your hands on your shoulders, feet flat on the floor. Start a timer for 30 seconds and count how many times you can move from sitting to standing.
Men older than 65 should be able to do 12 or more; women over 65 should do 11 or more.
If your score suggests a lack of power, you should begin with these three simple moves, suggested Dr Ali Harman, who is based in North Carolina and focuses on physical therapy.
As with strength, building power means consistently and progressively training your whole body, especially your legs and core. Aim for two to three sets of eight to 10 repetitions, several times a week.
Squat: Using a chair, you are going to replicate the sit-to-stand test, but with a twist. You focus on standing up as quickly as you can (power), then lowering yourself back down slowly to the seated position (strength).
Hinge: In order to use the power in your legs, you need to tie it to your core. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Quickly lift your hips up into a glute bridge position (power), then lower them slowly back down to the ground (strength).
Push: While most of your power comes from the larger leg muscles, your entire body plays a role in producing it, including your upper body. From a standing position, place your hands on the wall and move your feet back about 30cm away, keeping your legs shoulder-distance apart. ...