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By Edward Lockwood, DPT

walking for exercise

Do you have difficulty walking long distances? Do you have difficulty climbing stairs? Do you have difficulty performing activities that used to not be challenging?

As we age, we all lose bone mass, muscle mass, and strength. This can make daily activities that used to be easy a consistent daily challenge. It is estimated that we lose approximately 5 % of our body’s muscle mass every 10 years after the age of 35. In addition, it is estimated that we lose about 30 % of our overall strength between the ages of 50 and 70.

This loss of strength over time can often lead to decreased balance, difficulty with prolonged standing or walking, and increased risk of falls. Falls can lead to many different musculoskeletal injuries that can further decrease mobility, function, and the ability to perform necessary daily tasks. What can be done to improve your everyday function as you age?

There are many physical therapy techniques and treatments that can be used to improve functioning and mobility in this population. Some examples of this include working on walking mechanics, task specific training, balance training, aquatic therapy, fall prevention training, and strength training. There are specific musculature that when weak have correlation to poor balance and increased fall risk. Improving the strength of muscles that have gotten weaker over time can significantly decrease risk of injury and help improve your ability to perform your daily tasks. There are many ways to improve strength and function, which may enable you to return to hobbies and recreational interests leading to a more fulfilling life.

If you have recognized some of these changes in your body and you are concerned about your loss of function, consult with a physical therapist to learn what you can do to make things better.

Dr. Lockwood is a Physical Therapist at Boston Sports Medicine