Josée Lavigueur's Space
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Declining physical fitness: What to do?

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know: our bodies slow down as we age. Whether it’s our mental acuity, our agility or our muscle and cardiorespiratory vigour, our bodies become less efficient. Is there a one-size-fits-all fitness model? Definitely not! Everything’s relative.

According to recent studies, slower movements in aging adults are directly linked to declining health. This gradual slowing generally starts around the age of 62, with a slower walking pace. This can surreptitiously lead to a gradual decrease of various functions such as muscle strength and endurance, cardiorespiratory capacity as well as cognitive abilities and speed. The statistics are concerning: between 2000 and 2012, fatal falls caused by a physical dysfunction more than doubled, while non-fatal falls increased by 23%.

Keep in mind that a targeted exercise program can significantly slow down the biological degeneration that comes with aging. The solution is clear: don’t neglect motor skills like balance, coordination and agility so that you can protect yourself and maintain good physical and mental health!

Strength training

It’s often when falling that we need speed and strength to absorb the weight of our body and adjust our movements to avoid the worst. Functional problems that result from falls usually occur because our stabilizers aren’t doing their job. Strength training involves exercises that require you to use strength as quickly as possible. All muscle-building exercises can easily be turned into strengthening exercises. All you have to do is increase their speed, but do it carefully. If you want to push further in your training, I suggest looking for programs based on Gentile’s Taxonomy. This framework will help you classify your exercises and adopt an efficient progression.

My exercise suggestions

All exercises should take into account what we call the Base of Support (BOS). When possible, follow a progression similar to the following examples:

Biceps workout with weights (and/or shoulder workout with weights)

  1. Elbow flexion, with weights, and stable BOS: feet apart, stable surface
  2. Elbow flexion with weights, and narrow BOS: feet together, stable surface
  3. Same exercise while walking on an unstable surface
  4. Same exercise while doing a simple dance step

Working on balance and stabilizers

Standing, next to a stable chair:

  1. Both hands on the backrest of a chair: open the leg to the side, balancing on one foot, 8 times, and repeat on the other side
  2. Same exercise, but with one hand on the backrest of a chair
  3. Same exercise, with no support (the chair is there if needed)