Why Strength Training for Older adults is Essential

The human body changes as we age, of course, and often in ways we don’t like. Even healthy, normal aging includes:

  • A slower metabolism.
  • Decreased muscle mass and strength.
  • Increased body fat.
  • Reduced bone density.
  • Increased bone porosity.
  • Stiffer joints.
  • Slower reflexes and reaction times.
  • Decreased aerobic capacity.

These are just some of the normal changes we experience with aging, but they don’t have to be extreme. One of the most important reasons to exercise at all, and specifically to include strength training, is to slow and minimize these changes.

Preventing Bone Fractures

Bone fractures and breaks are all too common in older adults because of loss of bone density and osteoporosis. While there can be other causes of osteoporosis, and it may need to be managed medically, there is plenty of evidence that exercise can improve bone density. Weight-bearing aerobic exercise and strength training increase density and reduce the risks of breaks.

Strength Training Increases Muscle Mass

By the age of 70, the average adult has lost 25 percent of muscle mass. And this is due mostly to disuse and inactivity. Any kind of exercise can reverse this loss and build muscle mass and strength, but weight lifting, strength training, and resistance training are best.

Improving Functional Movement

Increasing strength through training is essential for improving overall function. Older adults can gain more mobility, walk farther, and even reduce the need for assistive devices like canes and walkers with regular strength training.

Building strength also helps with all kinds of other functional movements, like sitting or getting in the bathtub. This in turn just makes life easier and opens up access to more activities.

Better Body Composition

Older adults, especially women, tend to gain more fat while they lose muscle mass. This puts them at risk for chronic illnesses. All kinds of exercise help to maintain good body composition, and strength training is an important component.

Strength Training for Seniors Benefits Mental Health

Just as important as physical health in aging is mental health. Getting older can put you at risk for loneliness and social isolation, depression, and other mental health issues. Building strength, which increases mobility and function and improves overall health, boosts mood and overall quality of life.

(Article taken from ISSA)

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