When we think of strength training, the first image that comes to mind is usually some variation of an athlete or jock lifting twice their body weight in the gym.
The last thing that comes to mind is probably your grandmother. While this may make many of us take pause, recent research is showing the vast benefits of strength training in the aging population, and how changing the image of strength training amongst the elderly may be the missing link in preventing injury, bone loss and improving mobility.
As we age, we tend to lose strength, become less agile and flexible over time. While this is largely a just a part of the aging process, the rate at which we lose functionality and strength can be slowed through resistance training.
Resistance training involves engaging the muscles and bones in weight-bearing exercises. These exercises span from body-weight exercises to weight lifting. In the process of lifting weights, we apply resistance to our muscles and bones, a strenuous process that forces our bodies to adapt, or become stronger, in order to accommodate the added pressure. By age 30, we begin to progressively lose muscle tone, and strength, a loss which remains largely consistent until around age 50. By the age of 60, this muscle tone loss drop precipitously, and for those that are inactive, this can lead to dangerous outcomes.
This loss can result in a loss of balance which can result in falling- the leading cause of injury and death in older Americans. It can also lead to an inability to do even the simplest daily activities, like pushing yourself up from a chair.
Where to Start
For most people, starting with 2-3 days of resistance training for at least 30 minutes is ideal. If you would like to incorporate weights, start with light weights and work your way up. If you cannot do more than eight repetitions of the exercise, the weight is likely too much. As time goes on, try to slowly begin increasing the weight to add resistance and build strength.
Beyond weight training, walking, swimming and fitness classes such as yoga, pilates and dance classes are excellent ways to incorporate aerobic activity into your routine, while improving your functionality. Try to engage with a local walking club, fitness classes at your gym or even a community tai chi class. The benefits of physical fitness are innumerable, but it can be life saving when regularly incorporated into your daily routine.
Lolade is a health enthusiast with a passion for empowering her communit(ies) to lead their best lives. She is a certifying doula and health coach with on a mission to transform the standard of care in women’s health. You can follow her journey on Instagram: @lolvde.
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