You need to stimulate your muscles with regular exercises and not just your usual activities of daily living to maintain muscle strength and mass and keep off sarcopenia.
"Some people might think that doing household chores and walking to the market are considered exercises," said Ms See Yi Na, a senior physiotherapist at the National University Hospital Rehabilitation Centre.
However, they also need to set aside time to exercise on a regular basis, she added.
The American College of Sports Medicine notes that older adults should perform at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking and swimming, every week.
The college also recommends that seniors perform 30 minutes to one hour of resistance training two to three times a week on alternate days, said Ms Kelly Chan, a senior physiotherapist at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.
Each time, they can do a maximum of eight to 12 repetitions for each exercise, with one to two minutes of rest between each set.
To achieve this, you can incorporate your daily life activities into your training plan. Make sure these activities involve multi-joint exercises that target major muscle groups, such as the chest, shoulders, arms, back, and upper and lower limbs, said Ms Chan.
She gave two examples of such exercises:
1. Stand up from a chair This mimics a leg-press exercise.
Start by standing up from a chair with both legs firmly on the ground and your arms across your chest.
Repeat 10 times.
As you become more comfortable with this, progress to the next stage by doing one of the following steps:
• reduce the height of the seat;
• perform it at a slower pace, with more controlled movements;
• perform it at a faster pace, with more powerful movements; or
• hold or wear more weights.
2. Lifting household items This activity targets the upper limbs.
You can lift a bag of groceries or a loaded laundry basket and place it on a shelf.
Do 10 repetitions.
Then you can increase the intensity by:
• placing it on a higher shelf;
• carrying the bag or basket for a longer distance before you place it on a shelf; or
• placing more items in the bag or basket to increase the weight.