The older we get, the more important it becomes to lift weight.
While it seems hitting the gym and heading for the weights section is only for those under 50, recent research has shown that not only is it safe for those above 50 to engage in weight training, but it also comes with profound advantages. Older adults who regularly engage in weight training state the following benefits:
- Improved walking ability
- Improved ability to do daily activities
- Decreased risk of falls and fractures
- Relief from joint pain
- Improved blood sugar control
- Improved immune system and recovery after trauma such as surgery
According to the American College of Sports Medicine “A gradual loss in muscle cross-sectional area is consistently found with advancing age; by age 50, about ten percent of muscle area is gone. After 50 years of age, the rate of loss accelerates significantly.
Muscle strength declines by approximately 15 percent per decade in the sixties and seventies and by about 30 percent thereafter. Although intrinsic muscle function is reduced with advancing age, age-related decrease in muscle mass is responsible for almost all loss of strength in the older adult.”
Essentially as you age, muscle deterioration occurs at a rapid rate. Making tasks that used to be simple, such as picking up or carrying groceries, walking up flights of stairs, or getting up from the floor become difficult or near impossible. While you may not be planning on taking a seat on the floor anytime soon, it is still an imperative ability to have. You see, as you age balance becomes very problematic, with more falls occurring the older you become.
Not only do you lose the ability to perform everyday tasks, and increase the risk of falls and fractures, but your ability to regulate body temperature worsens and your metabolism begins to slow down. In addition, mental wellness can become compromised due to loss of autonomy, potentially bringing about feelings of depression, inadequacy or low self-esteem.
However, the American College of Sports Medicine elucidates that when older adults are “given an adequate training stimulus…” they “…can make significant gains in strength. A two- to three-fold increase in strength can be accomplished in three to four months in fibres recruited during training in older adults. With more prolonged resistance training, even a modest increase in muscle size is possible.
…With increasing muscle strength come increased levels of spontaneous activity in both healthy, independent older adults and very old and frail men and women. Strength training, in addition to its possible effects on insulin action, bone density, energy metabolism, and functional status, is also an important way to increase levels of physical activity in the older adult.”
Furthermore, weight training increases the body’s store of proteins and metabolites, which help stabilise the immune system. The higher amount of proteins and metabolites also help improve recovery after major traumas such as surgery. Not only does weight training build muscle and reduce bone density degeneration, it can also reverse damage already done. For example, walking lunges are great exercises to do in order to build bone density in your hips. Weight training is especially important for older women. This is because hormonal changes can rapidly increase bone density deterioration, belly fat, and the loss of calorie burning tissues.
With increased functioning, physical wellness, and strength comes positive benefits mentally and emotionally. For more information on how you can develop strength, coordination, balance and mobility in a safe and encouraging environment, contact us by filling out the below form: