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What Your Fitness Today, Can Tell You About Your Health in Old Age

There comes a time in most people’s lives (usually around their mid 30s), when their motivations for living a healthy lifestyle change.

It’s a time when the pursuit of physical and mental health becomes the key driver.

With a maturing in age comes a maturing of priorities, and the focus drifts away from the aesthetics and performance of today, and towards long term health. Over 25 and struggling to find motivation to exercise? Read this.

And while the enemies to our future health are often hidden, we can find clues today, that will tell us a lot about what may confront us in the future.

Range of Motion is a health facility that helps guide our clients towards long term health through building positive long-term habits.

As part of the work we do with our clients, we profile their health and fitness to identify their strengths and weaknesses. We believe that by identifying weak areas of their health and fitness, we’re able to identify those areas that we need to improve to maximise overall health. You can learn more about this profiling here.

This profiling results in a four-letter profile (read more). The four letters are:

  • W (work capacity, or aerobic fitness).
  • A (absolute strength, or how strong an individual is at lifting external loads).
  • R (relative strength and stamina, or how well an individual is able to move their own bodyweight).
  • P (power, or the ability of an individual to move either an external weight or their own body, fast).

These four letters can be arranged into 24 different profiles, ranking the individual from weakness to strength. For example, someone with a profile of WRPA would be very good at lifting weights, but would get out of breath walking up a set of stairs. An APRW profile would be able to run all day, but would be weak.

And while this profile gives a great insight into the individual TODAY, its real benefit lies in the clues it can give about the long-term future health of that person. While the deficits in our fitness might be small now, there is a marginal compounded loss over years that can become a major issue in the future.

Let’s explore the four letters of a fitness profile to reveal what a weakness in each can predict about our future health, both in terms of how it may negatively impact your HEALTHspan (how long you’ll stay healthy) and your LIFEspan (how long you’ll live). We’ll explore both what the letter predicts about your physical condition and functional ability, and what it predicts about potential chronic medical conditions.

The intent here isn’t to ‘fear monger’, but rather, to give you a ‘heads up’ as to the importance of working on the ‘weak links‘ of your health. Learn more about why focussing on weaknesses is so important.

A weakness in Absolute Strength (‘A’ is the first letter of your profile and you’re not very strong at lifting things):

Higher risk of limitations in these functional abilities:

  • Being able to stand up from a low chair/couch.
  • Getting into and out of the car.
  • Getting on and off the toilet.
  • Gardening, including moving pots and bags of soil.
  • Carrying luggage etc. when traveling.
  • Carrying the shopping.
  • Opening jars.
  • Carrying kids/grandkids.
  • Taking the bin out.
  • Picking up pets.
  • Lifting heavy pots and pans.
  • Balancing.
  • Climbing into and out of the shower/bath.
  • Getting out of a pool.
  • Putting things on or getting things off high shelves or low cupboards.
  • Moving furniture.
  • Picking things up off the floor.

Higher risk of suffering from these chronic conditions:

Want to learn more about the importance of resistance training? Read ‘Why You Need to Lift Weights For Your Health’.

A weakness in Relative Strength and Stamina (‘R’ is the first letter of your profile and you’re not very good at lifting your own bodyweight):

Higher risk of limitations in these functional abilities:

  • Getting up and down from the floor.
  • Pulling yourself to standing position.
  • Climbing ladders etc.
  • Playing with kids/grandkids on play equipment.
  • Hanging out washing.
  • Washing the car.
  • Cleaning the house.
  • Doing your hair.

Higher risk of suffering from these chronic conditions:

  • Various forms of metabolic disease (Diabetes, High Cholesterol, Hyperlipidemia, Obesity): Caused by low levels of lean muscle mass.
  • Arthritis and Joint Pain: Caused by poor joint stability and range of motion.

A weakness in Power (‘P’ is the first letter of your profile and you’re not very explosive or fast):

Higher risk of limitations in these functional abilities:

  • Resisting falls and recovering from trips before they become a fall.
  • Walking on uneven ground.
  • Balancing.
  • Climbing steps.
  • Moving quickly to stop kids or pets running into traffic or another danger.
  • Playing a variety of sports with kids/grandkids.
  • Running with kids/grandkids.
  • Throwing balls/sticks for kids/pets.
  • General coordination.

Higher risk of suffering from these chronic conditions:

  • Neuromuscular and Degenerative Disorders (Stroke, Muscular Dystrophy, MS, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s Disease): Resistance training at speed helps to increase functionality and slow rates of degeneration in people who have been diagnosed with these conditions.
  • Osteoporosis: Low bone mineral density caused by a lack of resistance training.

A weakness in Work Capacity (‘W’ is the first letter of your profile and you get out of breath easily):

Higher risk of limitations in these functional abilities:

  • Walking/hiking.
  • Walking up stairs/hills.
  • Cycling.
  • Walking the dog.
  • Cleaning the house.
  • Gardening.
  • Playing with kids/pets.
  • Shopping.
  • Sex!

Higher risk of suffering from these chronic conditions:

  • Heart Disease (High Blood Pressure, Heart Attack, Angina, Peripheral Arterial Disease): Higher levels of cardiorespiratory endurance are associated with reduced risk of heart disease.
  • Pulmonary Disease (Chronic Obstructive / Restrictive Pulmonary Disease, Asthma): Higher levels of cardiorespiratory endurance are associated with reduced risk of pulmonary disease.
  • Immunological Disorders (Cancer, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia).

 

So how can we address these weaknesses? The process is relatively simple. We need to spend more time working on the things we’re weak at – the letters at the start of the four-letter profile. By individualising and biasing our approach to exercise (read more about why an individualised approach is so important), we can help protect ourselves from the future enemies of our health.

Dan Williams

Dan Williams

Founder/Director

Dan Williams is the Director of Range of Motion and leads a team of Exercise Physiologists, Sports Scientists, Physiotherapists and Coaches. He has a Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Health Science) and a Postgraduate Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science from The University of Western Australia, with minors in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology.