I’m not exactly sure who coined the phrase “fountain of youth”, but he or she may have very well been referring to the benefits associated with resistance weight training. Resistance weight training has a host of positive effects for the aging individual. The numerous studies conducted to evaluate the effects of weight training in the aging have shown weight training to be extremely beneficial to individuals well into their 90’s. One such study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, involved 100 frail men and women in their 80’s and 90’s, all of whom had generalized arthritis, some degree of heart disease, and at least one chronic illness. After 10 weeks of weight training the mean strength increase of this group was near 120%. This and other studies have dissipated the belief that age may preclude one from lifting weights and has brought to our attention the importance of weight training for all ages, especially those over 40.
Maximum muscle size and strength generally occurs between the ages of 20 and 30. Thereafter, there is a progressive decline in muscular size and as a result, strength. Weight training is an effective tool for preventing and recovering some of these muscular losses associated with aging. Many determined older individuals have initiated a resistance weight training regimen later in life and were able to surpass the muscular size and strength they possessed in their youth. Other benefits associated with weight training include increased metabolic rate, increased energy, increased flexibility, increased sense of well being, increased bone density, increased strength of connective tissue, not to mention the positive effects on the cardiovascular system. In fact, these are the very things we are in extreme jeopardy of losing as we age. By simply following a moderate weight training regimen 2 to 3 times a week a number of these age related changes can be slowed and even reversed.
I know regular strength training has been invaluable in my life. I’m in my late 50s and I workout 3 to 4 times a week with weights, and have done so for over 30 years. Last year I competed in my first powerlifting competition. I can still bench press over 300 pounds, squat over 400 pounds, and dead-lift over 400 pounds. One of the biggest boost to my self-esteem is most people look at me and think I’m in my 30s so, I feel like I’m a living example that resistance training is the “Fountain of Youth”.