Strength training is one of the most important activities you can do to stay healthy, fit, and strong as you age. It can starve off most of the diseases and chronic conditions that are associated with old age. It is the most effective means for preventing frailty, and living an independent life as you get older.
Musculoskeletal weakness is a pervasive problem associated with age and it typically leads to physical frailty among adults over the age of 70. On average men and women lose more than 5 pounds of muscle tissue between the ages of 25 to 55, and they experience an even greater rate of muscle loss beyond that age.
Strength training helps to counter the loss of muscle that accompanies the aging process. A study completed in 2009 with 1,644 men and women participants who performed one set of 10 resistance exercises 2 or 3 days a week for a 10 week period showed remarkable results. On average, the participants added 3 pounds of lean muscle weight and lost 4 pounds of body fat while the seniors (ages 65 to 80) developed muscle at the same rate as did those of the younger age groups. The conclusion of this study showed that strength training is a highly effective method of preventing muscle loss in both young and old.
Classic studies with postmenopausal women, older men, and nonagenarians have shown significant gains in muscle mass, strength, and functional abilities following several weeks of basic strength training. Additionally, research from Tufts University and the University of Maryland has revealed that 12 to 16 weeks of standard strength training increases resting metabolic rate by more than 7 percent in senior men and women. In addition to adding muscle, elevating the body’s metabolic rate, and reducing body fat, strength training has also been shown to have the following benefits
- Reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by increasing glucose uptake.
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by decreasing resting blood pressure.
- Reduce the risk of colon cancer by increasing gastrointestinal transit speed.
- Reduce the risk of low-back pain by strengthening the lumbar spine muscles.
- Reduce the risk of osteoporosis by increasing bone density.
- Reduce the risk of falls by improving muscle strength and balance.
- Reduce the pain and debilitating effects of arthritis, fibromyalgia, and clinical depression.
- Restore physical function to the frail elderly.
As you can see from the above benefits, if you haven’t, I suggest you start your strength training program today. If you are afraid of injury or don’t know where to start contact a qualified fitness professional to have them design a safe and effective strength training program for you.