Thought lifting weights was just for twenty-somethings? Think again. Strength and resistance training is as beneficial at 75 and it was at 25. Older adults who participate in muscle building exercises can rebuild lost muscle mass, and improve endurance.
Sarcopenia is the medical term for muscle loss that occurs as we age. After age 30, muscle mass starts to breakdown and is exacerbated by a lack of physical activity. Today’s sedentary lifestyles in an age of drive-thru restaurants and the sedentary activity of surfing the Internet only increases the risk of degenerative diseases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, seniors who engage in moderate weight lifting reduce the risk for osteoporosis, improve glucose levels, and experience relief of osteoarthritis symptoms. In fact, a study done by Tufts University on older adults with severe knee arthritis found their pain had improved by 43% after following a strength training program.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 2-4 days per week of weight lifting depending on physical limitation. There’s no need to become the Incredible Hulk going at it for hours. Twenty to forty minutes is sufficient, otherwise exhaustion and injury can occur. Fancy equipment isn’t necessary either in order to reap the benefits. If you can go to a gym, and work with a trainer great! Otherwise light hand weights, or resistance bands can be purchased inexpensively. Body weight exercise such as yoga is fantastic for building strength, and flexibility. Plank position, pushups, or lunges, use the weight of your body as resistance without relying on tools.
Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine. Existing ligament tears or strains require extra care to prevent further injury. The eldergym.com website provides ideas for various strength exercises with video demonstrations. There’s no such thing as too old, or too late to be strong and fit!