TRAINING FOR QUICKNESS
As we get older, we lose the ability to walk and move as quickly and efficiently as when we were younger. This is due to a variety of reasons. Primarily, we lose fast twitch muscle fibres (the type responsible for fast and explosive muscle contractions) more rapidly than slow twitch fibres. That means that we become physically slower the older we get, unless we do exercises to counter these effects. If we do not train to prevent it, after age 65 we will lose 3.5% of our lower limb muscle power every year.
The activities that we do every day (activities of daily living, or ADLs) are affected by these muscle power losses. The ability to get in and out of a chair, to walk quickly (an important skill if you are trying to cross an intersection before the light changes!) and to climb stairs are all greatly affected by your level of muscle power.
In order to train for quickness, here is a simple exercise that most people can do in their own neighbourhoods. Find an access ramp (the graduated type near the entry of a building that is used for access for those in wheelchairs or with walkers.) The ramp must have bars at the sides for safety. If you have any issues with balance, please make sure your hands are on the bars and that you have someone with you to help you avoid falling. If you use a walker or cane, make sure you are using it and have taken all the necessary precautions. Provided that you already walk quite regularly as part of your exercise routine, then add this exercise into your program by starting at the bottom of the ramp and picking up your walking pace as you go up the ramp. When you come back down, make sure that you do so SLOWLY, that your hands are on the side rails, and that you have someone with you for safety. Perform this exercise a few times during your exercise session and challenge yourself a little. The point of this exercise is to decrease the time it takes to get up the ramp by exercising this way one or two times a week (leaving rest days between sessions) for a period of at least a few months. Ideally, you should incorporate this exercise into your routine to keep your speed and quickness at an optimum level and to help avoid further deterioration to you muscle power.
Please consult a medical professional before starting this or any other exercise program. This article does not constitute medical advice