There seems to be some kind of misconception when it comes to older people exercising. Many people think of exercise as aerobic training like walking, swimming, or cycling. While cardio is definitely an essential part of keeping healthy, there has been research that found that strength training is the only type of exercise that will slow the decline in muscle mass, bone density, and strength. These were all once considered to be an unavoidable part of aging, but now we see it can be slowed down. As a result, now the American College of Sports Medicine has fitness guidelines specifically for people over 50. It’s advised to do resistance training 2-3 times a week to work the major muscle groups – arms, legs, and the core. The goal? To be able to lift a weight heavy enough to do 10-15 reputations per session before the muscles become too fatigued.
Maintain Muscle Mass
As people reach their mid-to-late 20s, they start to slowly lose muscle mass. Most research has shown the rate of muscle loss will increase significantly when we enter our 60s. While strength training won’t stop muscle loss altogether, it will slow it down – a lot. Not to mention, stronger muscles overall will improve any other exercise you might do like cycling or swimming.
Doesn’t Take Long
Strength training is a type of exercise that can be done in a relatively short amount of time while getting serious benefits. Studies have shown that just two days a week for 15-20 minutes can provide enough stimulation to the muscles to improve strength and balance in adults. These results aren’t ones that require lifting heavy loads that might risk injury, either.
Reduced Injuries and Fatigue
Our joints are a major part of the way our bones and muscles work together in order to support and move our bodies. As we get older, our joints can weaken, become more stiff and sore – unless we include physical activity. Weak joints are more vulnerable to injuries from falls, twists, or even picking up groceries. Muscular weakness is also tied to deficiencies in balance that could lead to injuries related to falls. Strength training will provide protection by improving balance and movement.
Increased Bone Mass
Weight training can increase bone mass in the body, which will lower the risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures. When you add muscle to the body, there is more weight to the skeleton, which will stimulate the bones to strengthen and grow as well.