If you are aged in your fifties you may be aware that you are not as strong or as quick as you used to be. We generally laugh this off as “old age” or, at least, “getting older”. The fact is, you are probably right! One of the major changes our bodies go through as we age is the decline in skeletal muscle mass (ie those muscles that work to move our bones). In addition our muscles change in their composition from fibres that contract quickly to those that fire more slowly and our tendons become less flexible. The result of these changes is a gradual loss of strength and power. Eventually our balance may be affected resulting in an increased risk of falling. You can imagine the effect of this on the ageing worker involved in manual tasks and/or the use of equipment!
The other problem is that these changes may not be noticeable from the outside because whilst our total body mass may not change, the percentage of our body fat increases in conjunction with muscle loss as we age. This increase in body fat, particularly in the abdomen, increases the risk of developing type II diabetes.
The good news is you can do something about it. Muscle loss is countered by a number of factors such as physical activity and adequate protein and vitamin D. Further, strength can be maintained for longer through involvement in regular strength training. Speak to the Training and Corporate Health team at Injury Treatment team if you are interested in providing education to your workforce about how to combat the effects of ageing and remain fit for work. We can also help you with strategies to assist your ageing workforce from a management perspective.
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