Am I Too Old to Start Lifting Weights?
Weight training is sometimes regarded as the type of exercise reserved only for the young and fit. However, it’s important throughout your life and possibly even more so as you age. And no matter what your age, it’s never too late to start.
Why Lifting Weights Becomes Even More Important in Old Age
If you’re middle aged or beyond and want to get into shape, perhaps you might have asked yourself, “Am I too old to start lifting weights?” The truth is, the idea of lifting weights can be intimidating or downright scary. As we age, our bodies tend to become stiff and joints start to creak. We also lose bone density and muscle mass. What’s more, tendons can become brittle, synovial fluid dries up and sinews grow weak. As this downward spiral begins, many older adults rest their bodies since it hurts to move around all the time.
It’s estimated that individuals who live a sedentary lifestyle can expect to lose up to 15% of their muscle mass between the ages 30 and 80. While some seniors may not care much about having a toned and stunning physique, reduced muscle function in old age is not something that should be taken lightly.
Lifting weights as you age becomes more important because it keeps your strength up and prevents Sarcopenia, or age related muscle loss. Strength training can quite literally give you the ability to keep on living. In fact, elderly individuals who lift weights report of benefits such as feeling stronger and healthier, or even having the ability to pick up their grandchildren.
In one study, seniors aged 65 and above experienced an improvement in endurance and leg strength. Most of the participants were able to walk up to 40% further without resting by the time they were finishing the 12-week weight-training program.
Other benefits of lifting weights even in old age include:
Improved Balance And Decreased Risk Of Falls
A New Zealand study showed a 40% reduction in falls among women aged 80 years and above who engaged in regular strength and balance training.
Relief From Joint Pain
One common misconception of weight training is that it stresses joints, which can lead to problems in older adults. The truth is a well-designed strength training program that involves weights actually helps to strengthen the tendons, ligaments, and muscles around the joints. This takes the stress off joints and eases pain, which in turn increases your range of motion.
More Strength To Carry Out Daily Activities
A 1995 study in Birmingham, Alabama reported of women between age 60 and 77 experiencing substantial gains in strength after spending 16 weeks of total body weight training. Subjects in the study reported of benefits such as an improvement in walking velocity and increased strength that made it easier to carry out daily tasks such as rising from a chair or lifting grocery boxes.
Strengthens Brittle Bones
Last, but certainly not the least, weight training can also strengthen brittle bones as well as promote the survival of neurons that help prevent dementia among seniors.
Remember that you can never be too old to start lifting weights. This form of strength training can be safe, fun, and a welcomed exchange to life in a wheelchair. The American College of Sports and Medicine recommends 2 days a week of weight training as a good starting point. To reap the benefits, aim for 30-minute sessions and engage in different lifts for at least 8 reps each, even if it is 2-5lbs. Rest between sets of repetitions and ensure to stay hydrated. Start off slow and work your way up gradually to avoid injuries.
If you don’t know where to start, you can always hire a fitness professional to help you create the right routine and diet to support your workouts. After several weeks, you’ll be well on your way to maintaining a young appearance and good health even as aging progresses.
Strength Training Can Actually Lead to Healthy Bones – Here’s How
When looking to improve your overall fitness, adding strength training to your workouts can be an effective measure. Strength training not only burns calories more efficiently, increases lean muscles, boosts mood, reduces body fat, and improves sleep, it also improves the health of your bones.
With an estimated 8 million women suffering from osteoporosis in the United States, this bone health boosting benefit of strength training is one all women should take full advantage of.
Regular strength training improves the overall health of your bones by triggering the following 2 key benefits:
Increase in Bone Strength
Just as muscles get stronger and bigger when exercised regularly due to the stress placed on them, bones also grow stronger when you regularly place demands on them. Basically, stress forms in bones during physical activity thus forcing the bones to toughen up so as to be in a better position to handle the stress being dealt to them.
This strengthening of the bones happens through a simple process where physical activity provides the mechanical stimuli or “loading” important for improving bone strength and health. While any form of physical activity can trigger this process, research suggests that strength training has a greater site specific effect than aerobic exercise. So, the greater the impacts of your strength training sessions, the stronger your bones become.
Buildup of Bone Density
The general makeup of bones causes them to adapt in response to the stresses placed upon it. So, if you’re highly inactive, you bones weaken over time and become more susceptible to thinning and fracturing. Alternatively, if you put your bones under moderate pressure by engaging in strength training routines, the bones respond by building more density.
The stress place on the bones nudges bone-forming cells into action thus resulting in the increased bone density. Hip, wrist, and spine bones enjoy the most increase in bone density since most strength training routines target these bones. This increase in bone density in turn helps protect against risk of osteoporosis.
If you’re a young woman, strength training’s bone strengthening benefit is one you should not pass on. This is because you’ll eventually become a post-menopausal woman where you’ll start to gradually lose bone density. With years of strength training behind you, your bone density will be so high that the overall loss of bone density you experience with time will deliver minimal negative consequences. Post-menopausal women can also benefit from strength training since it increases bone density.