People over the age of 60 are more likely to get injuries in everyday life. To take care of the elderly in your family so that they will be healthy and live a happy life, it’s necessary to regularly check their health, and one key indicator is muscle strength. So here are some easy ways to gauge muscle strength among those getting into their sixth decade and above:
1. Chair Sit-and-Reach
– To test lower body flexibility
Method – Sit in a chair and lean forward. Stretch out your legs to make them taut and tilt your toes upwards. Extend your arms straight forward. Stack your hands then reach out gently to touch the tips of your toes. For men, if the distance between the tip of the middle finger and the toe is more than 4 inches, they are in the risk group. For women, if the distance is more than 2 inches, they are in the risk group. They may have trouble balancing and walking and, for instance, may fall getting out of the car.
2. 30-Second Chair Stand
– To test leg strength
Method – Place a chair against the wall. Sit on the chair with your back straight slightly away from the backrest. Place both feet flat on the floor, pointing straight ahead. Cross both arms and place them across your chest. Stand up straight and sit down again repeatedly for 30 seconds. If you can’t do it 8 times or more, your leg muscles are not strong. There is a risk of falling while walking up and down stairs or getting up from a chair or bed.
3. Arm Curl
– To test arm strength
Method – Sit leaning on a chair with upper arms lightly pressed to the body. Use your forearms with your palms turned upwards holding a dumbbell (4 kg for men and 2.5 kg for women) in each hand. Start a timer, raise the dumbbells by folding your elbows then relaxing. Repeat for 30 seconds. If you can only do it less than 11 times, your arm muscles are weak and you may get an injury when lifting any heavy objects.
4. 6-Minute Walk
– To test your endurance or aerobic power
Method – Walk for 6 minutes and measure the distance. If you can’t get to 320 meters (both men and women), you are in the risk group. It may affect aspects of your daily life such as walking up and down stairs or taking a stroll.
5. 8 Feet Up-And-Go
– To test your balance and flexibility
Method – Place a chair against a wall. Place a small water bottle 2.5 meters in front of the chair. Have the over-60s person sit in the chair. Start a timer and signal for them to stand up, go and pick up the bottle of water, and walk back to the chair as quickly as possible. Stop the timer when they sit back down in the chair. Do it twice and pick the fastest time. If it’s more than 9 seconds, it means that their balance isn’t what it should be and there is a risk of falling.
If you regularly check the muscle strength of over-60s and encourage them to exercise, it will help them avoid accidents.
• Thai Health Promotion Fund
• Bangkok Hospital
• Sport Science Bureau, Department of Physical Education, Ministry of Tourism and Sports