WHY IT’S HARDER TO STAND UP AS YOU AGE: THE SCIENCE BEHIND YOUR STIFF JOINTS AND TIGHT MUSCLESCentrum Pharmacy
Unfortunately, we do get less flexible as we get older. Clinicians even have a test called ‘Sit to Stand’ (measuring the ability to stand up from a chair), widely used to examine physical function and screen older people at risk of falls and frailty.
There are lots of reasons why standing up gets harder as we age. It’s thought that our tendons get tighter around joints and the cartilage between our joints deteriorates. There is also a general deterioration in ligaments and a reduction in fluid within the joint (synovial fluid) along with tightening of muscles surrounding the joint.
Our muscle mass also reduces as we get older, especially muscles such as the quadriceps (around the front of your thighs), which are needed to help us stand up from a chair.
But the good news is that these changes may be slowed down. Regular physical activity is thought to slow down the deterioration in our flexibility, along with the other benefits it has for bone density, cardiovascular health and our mental health.
Studies have shown that people who are physically active can achieve a greater range of motion than sedentary individuals, even in older age. It is recommended that older adults should do activities that improve strength, balance and flexibility at least twice a week, as well at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week (or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity if you’re already active).