Increase Strength with Low-Energy (Eccentric) Exercise

Eccentric exercise/training is a form of exercise that works well for the elderly, and also for people with cardiopulmonary or neurological issues. It challenges the muscles; increases muscle strength; protects the joints; and uses a lesser amount of energy.

Eccentric training targets the muscle lengthening (elongation) phase of a muscle contraction by purposely slowing this portion of the contraction, resisting the force of gravity.

There are 3 facets to a muscle contraction. During a bicep curl (with a dumbbell), for example:

  1. concentric contraction: muscle contracts (shortens) as the weight is being lifted.
  2. isometric contraction: stopping movement (at 45 or 90 degrees).
  3. eccentric contraction: occurs while lowering the weight; the muscle lengthens. When controlling the rate of the downward motion of the dumbbell (resisting the force of gravity), the muscle is in a state of eccentric contraction.

It can be difficult for some senior citizens and those with certain afflictions to participate in a much needed rigorous exercise program, mostly due to loss of muscle mass.

Low intensity, eccentric exercise is ideal in these circumstances because:

  • may start out using lighter weights,
  • oxygen requirements are less for this type of exercise,
  • muscle damage and tendon strain is minimized (as compared to concentric exercise),
  • less weariness from eccentric training than from concentric training,
  • can raise resting metabolic rate.

An eccentric exercise program will train muscle groups and increase strength and flexibility with low-energy exercise. Some eccentric exercises are illustrated below to get you started:


EccenBlog6Sit to Stand (Knee Extension)

  1. Stand close to a chair.
  2. Slowly lower yourself into the seat of the chair (seated position).
  3. To increase difficulty, stop midway before completely lowering into the seated position.

When strong enough, progress to barely touching the chair.


EccenBlog4  Heel Lift (Ankle-Plantarflexion)

  1. Holding onto a support (such as a chair), raise up onto your toes.
  2. Now slowly lower your heels to the floor, taking 3-5 seconds to do so.

EccenBlog3a Straight Leg Raise (Hip Flexion / Knee Extension)

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Keeping your knee/leg straight, lift your right leg.
  3. Slowly lower your leg, taking 3-5 seconds to do so.
  4. Repeat with the other leg.

To decrease difficulty or to reduce back strain, sit up to perform the exercise (as shown in the small boxes).


EccenBlog2    Leg Lowering (Trunk / Abs)

  1. Lie on your back and lift legs straight up.  Be sure to pull your belly button in toward your spine for stabilization and do not arch your back.
  2. Slowly lower your legs, taking 3-5 seconds to do so.

To decrease difficulty or reduce back strain, bend your knees while lowering legs.


EccenBlog3  Elbow – Tricep Extension Drop

  1. Begin in position with elbow bent.
  2. Extend right arm straight out behind, quickly.
  3. Slowly bend your elbow back to starting position, taking 3-5 seconds to do so.
  4. Repeat with other arm.

To increase difficulty add weight using a dumbbell or other household item in your hand(s).


EccenBlog1  Abduction Lift (Shoulder)

  1. Standing with elbows bent, lift both arms to shoulder height.  Do not hunch or hike shoulders during the exercise.
  2. Slowly lower arms/elbows, taking 3-5 seconds to do so.

To increase difficulty add weight holding a dumbbell or other household item in your hands.



Protein – How Much To Consume Per Day?

Without eating enough protein, we cannot survive.

Proteins are the main building blocks of the body.  As a general rule, 10 – 35% of our daily calories should come from protein. The body cannot store protein for future use, so we must maintain a steady/daily intake.

All of our body parts:  cells, tissues, muscles and organs need protein in order to function properly.  The Institute of Medicine suggests that adults should consume 10 to 35 percent of their total calorie intake from protein.  Protein is necessary for:

  • Growth and development (in children)
  • Muscle growth
  • Regeneration and repair of body part components
  • Healthy skin, organs and glands
  • Maintenance of fluid balance
  • Developing antibodies to guard against infection
  • Creating a proper balance of blood acidity and alkalinity.

When we consume protein, it is digested and ‘broken down’ into its component amino acids.  These amino acids are then used by the body to replace and repair cells, tissues, muscle and organs. Consuming too little protein can lead to loss of muscle mass, stunted growth, fatigue and changes in skin and hair.

Protein also makes us feel more full/satiated after a meal. Compared to fat and carbs, protein offers more “bang for your buck” when it comes to filling you up and feeling satisfied after eating.  People who don’t eat enough protein may actually eat more food and still have an appetite afterwards.

How much protein do we need to ingest every day?  Not everyone needs the same amount.  Protein requirements depend on:

Age & Gender

  • Babies need about 10 grams per day.
  • School-age kids need 19-34 grams per day.
  • Teenage boys need up to 52 grams a day.
  • Teenage girls need 46 grams per day.
  • Adult men need about 56 grams a day (about 56 grams per day, 0.7 – 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body; active men will require more).
  • Adult women need about 46 grams a day (71 grams, if pregnant or breastfeeding).  However, actual protein requirements may be higher depending on a woman’s needs and activity level
  • Seniors, the elderly and those recovering from injuries need to increase their protein intake. (Increased protein consumption can help to improve strength, muscle mass, immune capability, bone health, blood pressure and wound-healing.

Body size – larger body size require extra protein intake to maintain good health.

Activity level – coincides with how much energy you burn in a day.  (Athletes require more protein than non-athletes, and the amount of protein needed is based on size and activity level.)

Choose healthy proteins:  lean meat, poultry, low-fat dairy, fish, soybeans, quinoa; beans, peas, nuts and seeds (eat a variety of these); tofu; eggs; grains, some vegetables, and some fruits (provide small amounts of protein).  Those following a vegetarian diet, getting enough protein can be a little difficult. Consume protein sources like beans, eggs, quinoa and tofu, in healthy vegetarian recipes.



Whole Health

Altering Your Biological Age

There are many theories to explain the process of aging.  However, there is a difference between chronological age and biological age.  Today life expectancy is increasing.  A new stage in the course of life, early old age, is being established.  Diet during this stage is very important.  Maintaining the correct diet along with exercising both the body and the brain can help prevent disease and help to manage those diseases already established.  Thus the onset of physical dependency may be postponed. Continue reading “Altering Your Biological Age”