Strength training (a.k.a. – weight training or resistance training) is a key component of overall health and fitness for everyone, regardless of your age or gender. It provides so many important benefits that simply can’t be achieved by any other type of exercise or activity. Let’s have a look at some of them.
1. Avoid Muscle Loss
A steady reduction in your body’s lean muscle mass is just one of many cruel pranks that Mother Nature plays on us as we age. (She can be pretty nasty!) Unfortunately, most adults tend to lose about 2 – 5% of their body’s lean muscle each decade after the age of 30. Here’s more bad news: This rate of muscle loss starts to really pick up after the age of 65 to 70 years, especially if you’re inactive. A continual loss of muscle in your later years can eventually lead to a loss in mobility and frailty, resulting in a greater likelihood of falls and fractures – not a good scenario.
Luckily, there is a solution to help you avoid (or at least slow down) this whole “wasting away” process as you age – strength training. Participating in a sound and sensible strength training program will not only help you preserve your body’s lean muscle throughout your adult life, but can help you increase the amount of muscle on your body – at any age! Having more muscle mass in your later years results in greater mobility and improved balance, significantly reducing the likelihood of falls and fractures – a much better scenario than the one above, don’t you think?
2. Increases Your Metabolism
A slower metabolism (your body’s ability to burn calories) is another negative side effect of losing lean muscle as you age. That’s because muscle burns more calories at rest than fat. The more lean muscle you lose, the fewer calories your body will need to burn. And since most people don’t adjust their calorie intake to account for a downward-creeping metabolism, bodyweight tends to start creeping upward – not a good trend for long term weight control. Strength training helps reverse this whole process of a slowing metabolism by keeping your lean muscle where it belongs – on you! It’s much easier to maintain a healthy bodyweight throughout life with a revved-up metabolism.
3. Builds Stronger Bones
Another delight resulting from the aging process is the fact that both men and women tend to gradually lose bone mass over time. Down the road, this can lead to the development of osteoporosis (brittle bones), making you much more prone to fractures. However, just like muscles, bones also respond (over time) to the stress of resistance exercises by becoming denser and stronger. This is especially helpful for post-menopausal women since they tend to lose up to 1-2% of their bone mass each year. Once again, strength training to the rescue!
Note: Be sure to include strength exercises in your workout plan that stress the hips and spine such as squats, lunges and step-ups. These are the areas that are affected most by osteoporosis, particularly in older women. It’s also worth noting that hip fracture rehabilitation is the number one reason people end up in nursing homes and never leave – need I say more?
4. Reduces Symptoms of Chronic Health Conditions
Strength training has been proven helpful for reducing symptoms of numerous chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and back pain – just to name a few. I know most people don’t usually “connect the dots” between weight training and disease. But if you do suffer from any chronic health ailments, chances are you can lessen some of your symptoms with strength training. Just be sure to check with your doctor first.
5. Lowers Your Risk of Injury
Dealing with injuries is no picnic, especially as you get older. Even minor injuries seem to take forever to heal. But here’s some good news: Stronger muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments (all products of consistent strength training) are less likely to break down and become injured under the stress of everyday physical activities, compared to weaker ones. Makes sense, right? Stronger things tend to hold up better than weaker things – you get the picture.
6. Makes You Stronger for Everyday Activities
Increasing your strength will have a positive carryover effect on practically every physical activity you do. Whether it’s hitting a golf ball, walking up a steep hill or simply getting in and out of your favorite chair, stronger muscles will help you do everyday tasks with greater ease. And since strength training also improves your muscular endurance, you’ll be able to perform most tasks for longer periods of time without tiring.
7. Adds Shape to Your Body
It’s not going to show up on an X-ray, blood test or EKG readout but will show up in the “mirror test.” You want to look better, right? Of course you do. There’s no shame in including a “vanity element” when setting exercise goals – in fact I strongly encourage it. It doesn’t always have to be about health risk factors and appeasing your doctor. Adding even just a little bit of lean muscle goes a long way in improving your body shape. When you look better, you feel better – and that’s a good thing!
I could go on and on with reasons why all adults should take part in a strength training program, but I think I made my case just fine with those. And if you’re not currently doing any strength training, I hope you reconsider – it’s the number one way to remain strong and independent throughout your life, even well into your later years. So if you want to expel some of the curses of aging cast by Mother Nature, I suggest you start hitting the weights – the sooner the better!
I hope that helps,
PaulShare With Friends: