Strength training is an important element of any workout program, but it is also believed to be a powerful weapon against aging. It is well-known as an important deterrent against physical declines associated with aging. While no remedy or exercise regimen can stop the progression of time, aerobic exercise coupled with strength training can certainly help slow the inevitable and keep people much healthier in the process.
Many fitness experts are lauding strength training for its health benefits. This form of exercise is extremely important in slowing the progression of age-related declines in bone density, metabolism, and muscle mass. Moreover, it is an effective way to manage a one’s weight, build core strength, and stay svelte. Furthermore, if an individual needs to lose weight, strength training is an essential ingredient for success. Other benefits of strength training include a lower risk of developing arthritis and osteoporosis, reduced back and body pain, as well as help in the prevention and/or management of many health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and a variety of other conditions.
Think about the importance of maintaining a high quality of life and independence as people age. Individuals want to take pride in and value being able to perform their favorite activities, daily chores, socialize with friends and family, and care for themselves in older age. In order to enjoy these activities, it is important to stay strong, fit, trim, and as mobile as possible. Moreover, if a person does have mobility issues or limitations, it is essential to do whatever possible to alleviate and/or improve their physical condition. While aging is a fact of life, it does not mean that older age has to necessarily dictate one’s limitations. If individuals make a concerted effort to stay fit and active, older age can be very fruitful and productive.
Over time, physical inactivity results in muscle loss, which can be as significant as seven pounds per decade. In turn, this muscle loss can lead to a reduction in a person’s metabolic rate. With continued physical inactivity, an individual’s metabolic rate could decrease as much as five percent per decade. This supports the theory that the real culprit associated with physical declines in aging is not age itself, but rather increased inactivity.
Besides the obvious loss of muscle mass, many other health issues are linked to physical inactivity. For example, glucose sensitivity decreases as people age. Moreover, insulin resistance and poor glucose metabolism is associated with Type II diabetes. Some studies have claimed that four months of strength training can improve a person’s glucose uptake by nearly 25 percent and may help starve off or reverse pre-diabetic conditions.
Some additional benefits of this form of exercise include higher bone density and relief from joint pain. This is because strength training not only helps to nourish and build-up the joints, it will also strengthen the muscles around the joints, which in turn provide greater support for the joints and body as a whole. This is especially significant if someone has injured or damaged joints. While it is important that an exercise regime does not cause additional pain to affected areas, it is essential to keep the joints as mobile as possible.
Strength training could be a powerful weapon for combating reduced mobility, disability, and the effects of aging on the human body. It is so important to stay strong, active, mobile, and self-sufficient as individuals age. Moreover, medical research has consistently shown the many health benefits of strength training for older adults. Physical declines as people age are expected, but not absolute. If a person adopts a healthy lifestyle, which includes aerobic exercise coupled with strength training, the physical declines associated with aging can be slowed and controlled. Moreover, the quality of one’s life will be much improved.
One of the most important aspects of this form of exercise is that a person is never too old to begin or resume a regular regime. A person can improve the quality of their life at any age or physical condition. Additionally, strength training could be a powerful weapon against aging. Of course, common sense and the supervision of a doctor or trainer may be recommended. This is especially true for those individuals with pre-existing medical and/or health conditions. For those individuals with mobility issues and injuries (e.g. chronic pain sufferers), they will need to adapt their exercise routine and strength training program accordingly.
While strength training could be a powerful weapon against aging, it is also an important element of any workout program. If a person wants to stay strong, active, mobile, and self-sufficient as they age, then an individual should be strength training for at least 30 minutes a day, twice a week. For older adults and those with medical concerns, please consult a doctor and/or therapist before beginning any new exercise or strength training program.
By Leigh Haugh
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention–Physical Activity
National Institutes of Health–The Benefits of Strength Training for Older Adults