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Why strength training is essential for older people

April 03, 20234 min read

“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” Edward Stanley

Want to live longer and enjoy daily life more?

Weightlifting gets a bum rap, sometimes.

Too many older people think it’s only for the young, athletes, and bodybuilders.

“I just want to enjoy my life in retirement – not look like Arnold Schwarzenegger,” they might say. 

Fair enough. But let’s look at it from a quality-of-life point of view. Remember, we’re here to help you live your best life, however you define it. 

Functional independence is the goal – not big muscles, per se (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

But did you know that resistance training or strength training, which includes weightlifting, is one of the best things mature Americans can do for their health? 

It’s true. Here are seven of the top reasons why older people should include in their regimen regular resistance training – which also can include using elastic bands and even body weight to strengthen muscle.

1. Resistance training adds years to your life

Did you know that we start losing muscle mass as early as our 30s? That loss gets greater as we age. By 80, most men have lost half the muscle they had when they were younger. 

Without muscle, we are frail, have more trouble with basic mobility (like getting out of a chair) and become more likely to fall – and we all know how dangerous falls can be to older people. 

But resistance training does so much more to lower our risk of injury and death. In a study by the National Center for Health Statistics, older Americans who strength-trained at least twice a week were half as likely to die for any reason, compared with the older people who did not.

And it’s not too late. Studies show weightlifting actually adds muscle mass and strength regardless of age.

2. Stronger muscles = stronger bones

Many seniors struggle with bone health, like arthritis and osteoporosis – inflamed joints and weak bones. These not only hurt, but they also lower our ability to move in everyday tasks and, like muscle loss, can lead to dangerous falls.

Stronger muscles around affected joints keep them stronger and lubricated. Strength training slows bone loss and helps with swelling and pain.

It helps bones stay strong because it makes them produce more cells.

3. It works out the brain, too

You might know that aerobic exercise is good for your brain as well as your body.

Well, the same is true for strength training.

University studies and the Alzheimer’s Association, for example, report that resistance training can slow the cognitive decline we experience as we age.

Resistance training, as well as aerobic exercise, has demonstrated improvement in decision-making and memory, the Functional Aging Institute reports. Combining the two (say, walking and weightlifting) provides the biggest impact.

4. Less body fat, better skin tone

Strength training definitely tightens skin tone and reduces body fat, even among older people. (You will not become a cartoonish super-hero – seriously, that takes a long time and incredible focus.)

Less body fat is important to our health and ability to function. 

Do you feel like a big belly is the inevitable outcome of being older? But you find it a bother when playing with the grandkids?

Those extra pounds are not inevitable. Weightlifting is incredibly helpful to lower that bothersome – and dangerous – belly fat because it increases your metabolism, causing you to burn more calories, even when you’re not at the gym.

5. Play better golf, tennis and more

Being older doesn’t mean we have to give up everything we enjoy – including competitive sports like tennis and golf.

But if we’re not strong enough to play safely, we could injure ourselves or lose the confidence we need to enjoy the sport. 

Resistance training to strengthen your back, arms, core and legs will improve your golf, tennis, swimming – just about any activity you still enjoy.

And again, it’s not just for senior athletes. For millions of senior Americans, reaching for the high shelf can be a strain. Gardening can be exhausting, even dangerous.

It doesn’t have to be.

Summary: What to do now

OK, you’re convinced: Resistance training is important for your ongoing health.

And it won’t make you look like a goon.

What now?

We’ve just given five good reasons here.

Let us help you discover even more. At TASH Wellness we meet women at their fitness level and emphasize quality of movement over quantity. Give us a call to see if you qualify for our 28-day Trial.

At TASH Wellness in Glenview, we are here for you!  Our specialty is women. We love working with women that have a substantial amount of weight to reduce, or women that are 50 and above.  As a Functional Aging Specialist, Integrative Corrective Movement Instructor, and Aging the Older Adult Instructor, we get all our women moving functionally for the rest of their lives.  We work on balance, cognitive training, fall prevention and strength.  TASH Wellness is not a gym - it's a journey and it's YOUR community.  We serve women in Skokie, Wilmette, Winnetka, Evanston, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Park Ridge, Northbrook, Glencoe, Glenview, Riverwoods, Chicago and Des Plaines.

Strength trainingactive agingresistance trainingTASH WellnessWomen only trainingWomen only fitnessGlenview gym for women
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Sharan Tash

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1844 Waukegan Rd., Glenview, IL 60025