While jogging, running, swimming and other forms of aerobics have always been very popular among older adults, lifting weights and strength training is largely ignored.
Research has shown that exercises involving weight lifting are safe and effective for men and women of all ages, including those that aren’t completely healthy. In fact, individuals with health concerns, including heart disease or arthritis, often benefit the most from an exercise regime that involves weight lifting a few times every week.
There are countless benefits to strength training on a regular basis, especially as you grow older. Lifting weights can be very helpful in reducing signs and symptoms of several diseases and chronic conditions, such as:
- Back Pain
Tufts University recently performed a sixteen-week strength training program that consisted of older men and women with moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis. The results of the program concluded that strength training decreased pain by 43%, increased muscle strength and general physical performance, as well as improving the clinical signs and symptoms of the disease.
Strength training also eased the pain of osteoarthritis as much as medications did, if not more. The same results have been seen in patients that have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
Benefits of Strength Training
Increased Balance and with Less Falls
In older individuals, deteriorating balance and flexibility causes falls and broken bones. Strengthening exercises improve a person’s flexibility and balance. A New Zealand study among women 80 years of age and older showed falls reduced 40% with simple strength and balance training.
Post-menopausal women can lose 1-2% of their bone mass annually. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1994, a study conducted at Tufts University showed that strength training increases bone density among women aged 50-70, while also lowering the risk for fractures.
Strength training is absolutely essential when losing or controlling your weight, because those who have more muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate. Muscle is active tissue that consumes calories, as opposed to fat which uses very little energy. Lifting weights and building muscles can give you up to a 15% increase in your metabolic rate, which is greatly beneficial for weight loss.
In addition to the reasons listed above, strength training is just generally good for the body. Lifting weights gives you a healthy state of mind, improves the quality of your sleep, and lowers the risk of heart disease. Not only that, it tones your muscles and makes your body firm -- which should not only increase your confidence, but give you a naturally younger looking body for years to come.