Most people envision strength training as an activity for the young. But more and more, evidence is being uncovered about the benefits of strength training for seniors. In this article, I intend on explaining the benefits and showing you how to set up a step-by-step plan to experience these benefits.
First of all, the biggest reason for strength training among seniors is to fight off the effects of sarcopenia. This is the natural degenerative process of losing muscle as we age. It is also the primary reason that we tend to put on weight starting around age 30.
The reason for this is that as we lose muscle, we naturally start to burn fewer calories. And if you keep eating the same way and are active in the same way it starts to show in your waistline.
The net result of this loss of muscle is that as we age our muscles and bones become frail. And at one time it was thought that it was impossible to senior citizens to reverse this trend.
However, this is not the case. A review of 121 clinical trials of 6,700 senior citizens (1), where these seniors participated in two to three days of strength training at increasing intensity, showed significant improvement in strength, cardio vascular endurance, and in the ability to perform standard activities, such as bathing and eating, that they weren't able to perform before the exercises. Now with that being said, how does a senior many of whom have been sedentary for years, start to participate in a program like this?
See a doctor. Anyone who has been sedentary for a long time perhaps years or even decades cannot start any form of exercise program unless they are under strict supervision from a doctor. But if you get the go-ahead from the doctor, then go to Step 2.
As part of a general exercise program that will probably start off with walking, you will incorporate strength training. How?
My best recommendation would be resistance bands for several reasons:
• You can use them from home without having to go to a gym.
• If you get a quality pair of resistance bands meaning that they won't snap on you it is almost impossible to injure yourself. You can't say that if you drop a dumbbell on your foot.
• The bands come in many different resistance levels, so you can start out light and build up to more resistance with a single set of bands. It would cost far more to do with dumbbells than it would with resistance bands.
• If you get a door mount, you can end up doing just about any exercise you could at the gym with the resistance bands.
Set up a well rounded strength training program that is designed for beginners and then start to SLOWLY increase the intensity of your exercises.
Keep in touch with your doctor and if you have any questions or feel anything unusual contact your doctor immediately.
About the author:
Tony Rovere became an advocate for senior citizens and senior-health issues after having to deal with the complexities of the Medicaid process following his mother's heart attack.
He now shared his insights on caregiving and senior issues at his blog, Stuff Seniors Need, which was created to help not only senior citizens but the baby boomers who are now their caregivers.
Ask The Expert! Get Your Questions Answered Immediately