It is crucial to stay active as you age. It’s good for the body, mind and helps lift spirits and mood. However, aging is linked to several functional and psychological issues that can lead to increased frailty, falls, and disability. The main contributing factors are loss of muscle strength and mass as one age. Current research shows that strength-training or resistance training can help combat frailty and weakness and their debilitating consequences. Done right and regularly, resistance training offers numerous benefits as outlined below.
Benefits of resistance training for seniors
The human body changes as we age, and in ways, we do not like. Even healthy, normal aging includes:
- Increased body fat
- Reduced bone density
- Increased bone prosperity
- A slower metabolism
- Decreased muscle mass and strength
- Decreased aerobic capacity
- Stiffer joints
- Slower reflexes and reaction times
These are some of the normal changes that people experience with aging, but they do not have to be extreme. One of the primary reasons for strength training is to slow and reduce these changes. Below are some of the main benefits of resistance training for seniors:
Preventing bone fractures
Bone breaks and fractures are very common in seniors due to osteoporosis and loss of bone density. While there are numerous contributing factors to osteoporosis, which might need to be medically managed, there is sufficient evidence that resistance exercise helps improve bone density. Resistance exercises improve bone density and reduce the risks of fractures and breaks.
Increasing muscle mass
By the age of 70, an average adult loses 25% of muscle mass. This is mostly due to inactivity and disuse. Any type of exercise, especially resistance and strength training, can reverse the loss and build muscle strength and mass.
Better body composition
The elderly, especially women, tend to gain more fat as they lose muscle mass. This puts them at risk for chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. All types of exercises are crucial in maintaining healthy body composition. Strength training is an integral component to achieve this.
Improving functional movement
Increasing strength via resistance training is important to improve overall body function. Through exercises, seniors can walk farther, gain mobility and reduce the need for assistive devices such as walkers and canes.
- Giving more energy
- Making it easier to manage weight
- Reduce symptoms for health conditions like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis
- Lowering levels of pain and inflammation
- Improves glucose control
Create a complete resistance training workout
The Department of Health and Human Services, HHS has outlined the activity guidelines for seniors. They should work for all the main muscle groups when resistance training. This means that they should routinely work the muscles in the:
This gives one a complete body workout, and one will notice they feel stronger when doing daily activities such as playing with grandchildren, cleaning the house, or putting away the groceries.
Resistance training exercises to consider
The gym will give you access to all training equipment and expertise for a complete body workout. You can also resistance train without machines. This involves exercises that use their body weight or hand-held equipment like resistance bands, kettlebells, medicine balls, or dumbbells. For instance, you can do:
- Lateral raises
- Dumbbell chest presses
- Overhead presses
- One-arm rows