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Elderly at risk of major muscle loss after just two weeks of inactivity

New research by the University of Liverpool has found that just two weeks of reduced physical activity causes a major loss in muscle strength. The study, which was presented at The Physiological Society’s Future Physiology 2019 conference, additionally revealed that a lack of movement also led to a decline in bone mineral density.

Low bone density can lead to an individual developing osteoporosis, a disease which causes the sufferer's bones to become weak and fragile, a severe condition made worse for those with already weaker bones, such as the elderly. 

The importance of the 10,000-step rule

One of the authors of the new study, Juliette Norman, said getting more exercise doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym, but that “people should be encouraged to just meet 10,000 steps as even this can guard against reductions in muscle and bone health, as well as maintaining healthy levels of body fat.”

While achieving this target can be difficult for the elderly, it highlights the importance of staying active in later life, especially after a bout of illness that has forced you to become inactive. 

Older people more affected than young

The study, which was funded by the Centre of Integrated Research into Musculoskeletal Ageing (CIMA), compared how a period of exercising regularly followed by a period of very low inactivity affected a group of young adults and a group of older people.

The researchers wanted to find out if the health of the older adults was more affected by inactivity than the younger group since their muscle mass, strength and bone density were already lower. 

Staying active vital to healthy life

The study found that whilst muscle strength, size and bone mass was equally reduced in the younger and older groups, the elderly participants showed a more substantial decline in their cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and mitochondrial function. This is a significant finding because those with lower CRF are more likely to develop diseases at a younger age than those with a higher CRF.

What this means is that elderly people should do all they can to maintain their activity levels, so that they are more likely to stay healthier for longer. 

Established over 10 years ago, Burley’s Home Care understands what elderly people need in terms of both care and support to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle in the comfort of their own home. To learn more or to speak to one of our friendly and fully trained carers about your individual needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Burley’s today on 01425 470411