Strength Training in our Senior Years
This is the fourth and final installment in a series of posts concerning the benefits of exercise in our senior years. Specifically its effects on balance, disease, mental state and strength. This post will address the effects of strength training in our senior years. There is plenty of research that shows that strength training at any age will increase quality of life. What we’re going to look at is how specifically it effects men and women in their later years.
A paper published by the CDC sites many examples by Tufts University that shows that strength training can improve conditions such as: Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Weight Maintenance and Risks of Falling.
In a study of Hispanic men and women 16 weeks of strength training produced glucose control that is comparable to taking diabetes medication.
Post-menopausal women can lose 1-2% bone mass annually. A study conducted at Tufts and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1994 showed that strength training increases bone density among women aged 50 -70.
Strength training is very important in controlling weight. Muscle mass has a higher metabolic rate than stored fat does. Strength training can provide up to a 15% increase of metabolic rate. Which means it BURNS FAT!
As people get older poor balance and flexibility contributes to falls and broken bones. Strengthening exercises done properly increase a person’s flexibility and balance, which decreases the likelihood of falls. One study in New Zealand conducted with women 80 years and older showed a 40% reduction in falls with simple strength and balance training.
On a regular basis I work with people 80 years old and older. Currently my oldest client is 92. Strength training has an entirely different look to these folks compared to those in younger years from teens to mid lifers. Many times all I’m handing my clients are 1 and 2lb dumbbells. A lot of the time we’re just doing range of motion exercises. And other times we’re working on balance. It’s all relative. It makes no difference to your body whether you are lifting a 30lb weight or a 3lb one. As long as your body is being stimulated, you’re are forcing it to change.