If you think that strength training is just for elite athletes or 20-something sports players, then you are wrong. Strength training is important at any age, and it is even more critical as you get older. Here are all of the reasons why strength training should be a part of every older adult’s fitness routine.
Promotes Weight Loss
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2007 and 2010, more than one-third of adults over the age of 65 were obese.1 This number will only rise. By the year 2050, the CDC estimates that the number of persons aged 65 and older who are overweight or obese will rise significantly. Being overweight or obese is connected to diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer and stroke. Strength training helps decrease fat and increase muscle mass, which leads to weight loss. It also helps increase your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories and lose weight quicker. Weight loss in older adults can help reduce the risk of disability and premature death.
Falls are a big problem for seniors. One out of every three people aged 65 and older have experienced a fall in the past year. Falls are the leading cause of disability and death in older adults.2 Muscle strength is one of the core factors that play a role in falls. Your muscle strength in your legs and your core is what keeps you upright. When your leg, hip and core muscles are weak, you are more likely to become off-balance and experience a fall. Regular strength training will help keep your muscles strong and reduce the likelihood of a fall.
Enhances Functional Independence
Growing older can lead to a loss of energy and strength. In fact, we naturally lose about 40 percent of muscle mass between the ages of 20 and 80.3 This loss of strength can make it hard to do normal daily activities like climbing the stairs, carrying groceries inside your home and walking long distances. However, aging does not have to lead to a severe reduction in strength. Incorporating a strength training routine into your day can help you minimize muscle loss as you age.
There is an old saying “use it or lose it” that applies to muscle strength. If you don’t use your muscles, you will lose strength. So, one of the best ways to maintain your muscle strength — so that you can keep doing the things you do every day without assistance — is with strength training. Strength training preserves your muscle mass and strength, which are two things that you need to continue to do your daily activities.
Improves Mental Health
It is well-known that physical activity reduces depression and anxiety both in younger and older adults. Strength training, especially when performed on a regular basis with aerobic exercise, can also have a major effect on a person’s emotional and mental health. Studies have consistently shown that strength training improves well-being and mood.4
How To Get Started With A Strength Training Regimen
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that people aged 65 and older who are healthy do at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week. They advise 10-minute intervals. WHO also recommends for seniors to add strength or resistance training to their exercise routine two days per week.5 To get started with a strength training regimen the first thing that you need to do is talk to your doctor. Your doctor can advise you on what type and frequency of exercise are safe for you.