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Why Older Adults Need Strength (Resistance) Training

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

This article I am taking word for word out of a PDF booklet written by experts at the C.D.C.(Center for Disease Control) and Tufts University. You can view the entire booklet by clicking on the link above, but the introduction is shared by me below because it's concise and a good summary. Here we go:

"For many older adults, growing older seems to involve the inevitable loss of strength, energy, and vigor. But it need not be so. The frailty and decreased energy we associate with aging, such as difficulty walking for distances, climbing stairs, or carrying groceries, are largely due to muscle loss. This muscle loss results mainly from inactivity. The old saying is true when it comes to muscle: "Use it or lose it."

One of the best ways to keep muscles healthy and strong is through exercises called strength training --- sometimes known as weight lifting or resistance training. Studies at Tufts University have shown that strength training is one of the best ways to fight the weakness and frailty that can come with age. Done regularly, strength training builds bone and muscle and helps to preserve strength, independence, and energy. These exercises are safe and effective for women and men of all ages, including those who are not in perfect health. In fact, people with health concerns -- such as arthritis or heart disease -- often benefit the most from an exercise program that includes lifting weights a few times each week.

Strength training can also reduce the signs and symptoms of many diseases and chronic conditions in the following ways:

Arthritis -- Reduces pain and stiffness, and increases strength and flexibility.

Diabetes -- Improves glycemic control.

Osteoporosis -- Builds bone density and reduces risk for falls.

Heart Disease -- Reduces cardiovascular risk by improving lipid profile and overall fitness.

Obesity -- Increases metabolism, which helps burn more calories and helps with long-term weight control.

Back Pain -- Strengthens back and abdominal muscles to reduce stress on the spine.

Strength training, when done with regular aerobic exercise, can also have a major effect on a person's mental and emotional health. Studies have shown the people who exercise regularly sleep better, they sleep more deeply and longer and awaken less often. Strength training exercises can also reduce depression and boost self-confidence and self-esteem, and improve your sense of well being."

In conclusion, I would like to add just a few more facts from other proven studies that you won't want to hear, but sorry I have to share:

Adults who do not regularly perform strength training lose about 0.5 pounds or muscle per year during their 30s and 40s (Evans and Rosenberg 1992). Unfortunately, evidence indicates that the rate of muscle loss may double ( to 1 pound per year) in people over 50 years of age ( Nelson et al. 1994). Even more disturbing, the number of type II (fast-twitch) muscle fibers in sedentary males decreases more than 50 percent by age 80. (Larsen 1983).

These are the fibers that are most involved in movements requiring high levels of strength (e.g., ascending and descending stairs) among older adults. Because muscles are the engines of the body, the loss in muscle tissue is comparable to going from an eight-cylinder engine car to one with four cylinders, while the weight of the automobile (the person's body weight) remains the same or even increases.

So now you know why it's important to include resistance training as a vital part of your fitness routine. The quality of your life as the years go on could be directly effected by adding or neglecting this habit this year!! Come join me to get stronger.

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