The Importance of Core Strength as We get Older
Developing core strength and eating a healthy diet, are two of the most important things we can do for ourselves after the age of 50. The reason core strength is so important, is that bigger muscle groups in our body naturally start to go through a continued and significant progression of atrophy, especially as we get older.
Muscle loss with aging is known as sarcopenia, a diagnostic term derived from two Latin words,"sarco" for muscle, and "penia" for wasting. It is a natural and progressive loss of muscle fiber associated with getting older. A recent article in the "Journal of Nutrition" reported on a cross section of research that showed the overall loss to be 35 to 40 percent between the ages of 30 and 80. Some research reports changes as early as your 20s, but most agree the most significant changes take place after age 50. Both genders lose the same percentage with aging but women lose less mass overall.
The reason I feel the need to make a point of this, is that the only way to fight the effects of sarcopenia as we get older is building as much overall muscle mass as possible. (For those who may be concerned about over development,,...don't worry, it's just not going to happen.)
After 50, it's always a game of catch up, and the
only way to truly maximize our efforts at building muscle,
is to first develop our core. At this age, without a certain
level of core strength, we simply aren't going to be able
to engage in the type of resistance training it takes to fight
the ever progressing state of sarcopenia. "Rust never sleeps",
nor does sarcopenia.
My fitness program directly addresses this issue by first
establishing a client's level of core strength, and then
building upon it. If they have very little core strength to
begin with, then increasing it will always be my primary focus.
An interesting thing I've noticed over the years, is that it
usually doesn't take very long to activate the average person's
core muscles. After several weeks, often using nothing more
than their own body weight in a series of exercises done on
a floor mat, you will see these muscles start to fire and get stronger. As these muscles get stronger, they are better able to support the development of bigger muscles.
Only in the last ten years or so has an emphasis on core development become a foundation for most personal training programs. I spent my 30, 40s and much of my 50s enjoying the sport of rock climbing, and as any advanced climber will tell you, it's not big legs and arms that get you through the hard moves,...it's a strong core. Twenty five years ago, I started incorporating some of my knowledge of Climbing Exercises into my clients training programs and the results were an instant success. These exercises not only helped when it came to climbing, but also in bike riding, tennis, hiking, and just about anything else my clients do with their bodies.