CORE EXERCISE FOR 65 PLUS
The Beatles — one of the greatest bands of all time — has a catchy tune called “When I’m Sixty Four.” Released in 1967, the song is about growing old. It is a playful rumination of whether love and life would still be the same at 64. Paul McCartney, one of the Beatles, wrote the song for his father when he turned 64, a year before the retirement age in the United Kingdom then.
Retirement age has since risen in the UK and elsewhere in the world, including Singapore. As we work longer and retire later, would we still have the strength to meet up with friends, potter around the garden or keep an eye on the grandchildren? The purpose of the Pilates Gold sessions is to help individuals, aged 65 years and above stay active.
Pilates provides a full body workout which not only strengthens the big muscles of the body, but also the smaller, stabilising muscles such as core and pelvic floor muscles.
Incontinence (or leaky urine) and prolapse are common pelvic floor conditions among older adults. The low abdominal and pelvic floor muscles often weaken with age. Core and pelvic floor exercises can help tone and tighten the low abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
WHY CORE & ABDOMINAL EXERCISE
We are more familiar with why we should strengthen our upper and lower body, but less on why we need to strengthen core and abdominal muscles. Stronger core and abdominal muscles improve trunk flexion. They are the muscles that help us get out of bed every morning. We flex the trunk by contracting the abdominal muscles to sit up in bed.
As we move from a seated to a standing position, the abdominal muscles — particularly the core muscles — act as brakes to prevent the hip flexors (or anterior thigh muscles) from pulling the trunk too far forward as we are standing up, and the hip extensors (or posterior thigh muscles) from pulling the trunk too far backwards in the standing position. Core muscles prevent excessive movement at the lumbar spine when we transit from a seated to a standing position, and as we move around for the rest of the day.
As the lumbar spine is attached to the pelvis, strengthening core muscles also prevent instability at the pelvis such as at the sacroiliac (SI) joints. We may not think about our core muscles that much, but they help us get out bed every morning, keep the pelvic floor tone, and play an important role in trunk and pelvic stability.
REDUCES JOINT STRESS
Pilates also makes exercising easier if you are 65 years and above and have joint pain or mobility issues.
For example, if you have knee pain, exercising on the Pilates reformer reduces the weight of the upper body on the knees. The reformer — a moving bed made of springs — allows you to do leg and footwork exercises in a lying down position. Exercising on the reformer improves the range of motion in which the knees could move without pain. As a result, take the opportunity to stretch and strengthen the lower and upper body on the reformer.
As you get better, practice single-leg exercises. It is much easier to do single-leg balance on the Pilates reformer than when you are standing. Having a better balance and more lower-body strength, reduce the risk of falls, a common cause of trauma injury in older adults.
Enjoy Pilates, practice and see results.
STILL THE SAME PERSON
Paul McCartney — still going strong at 81 years old with a planned concert tour in Australia in late 2023 — was asked by Australian ABC News whether he remembered the young man who first visited the country in 1964. The Beatles were met with “loud shouts” from adoring fans.
McCartney replied with surprise: “This is him, still here. He is just not so young anymore.”
He said he hasn’t changed.
”This is still that same guy,” McCartney said, adding the best part about growing old is the memories.
“I have great memories of them and that young man they were shouting at,” he said.
Life doesn’t stop at 64, or at 81. You are still the same person. Let Pilates help you live your life fully. The combination of strengthening the large and smaller muscles of the body makes Pilates a good exercise for active ageing. So start today. See below for more details: