Resistance Training – It’s not just for the young!

I’m astonished by all the benefits there are to resistance training for those 50+.  In my preparation for my CPT exam I’ve learned the following shocking statistics:

  • Lower back pain is the most prevalent medical problem in the United States.
  • The average American adds about 10 pounds of weight each decade. This usually coincides with a loss of muscle and gain in fat.
  • There are many chronic diseases that the elderly are likely to encounter.  Of these the following can be treated and even prevented by participating in resistance training:
    • heart disease
    • cancer
    • diabetes
    • osteoporosis
    • arthritis
    • depression
    • obesity

Regarding each of these chronic conditions, I was further surprised to learn how much MORE effective resistance training is for older people than cardiovascular activities (the activity I see most older people participating in).

It’s never too late!

For example, in regards to heart disease, there are several ways that resistance training can lower your risk.  The most important way is by increasing your resting metabolic rate.  By building more muscle, you are increasing the engines in your body that burn calories even at rest.  The more muscle you have, the more calories you naturally burn – even without exercising.  But as we get older, we begin to lose the muscle we had when we were young and subsequently we begin to gain more fat.  To offset this lose of muscle, we must continue to do resistance training.  By doing so you may maintain that resting metabolic rate you always had or even improve it! In fact research shows that resistance training may have a greater effect on fat lose than aerobic training! 

Resistance training can improve your glucose uptake level.  This describes your body’s ability to absorb glucose in the bloodstream.  By improving this, you can reduce the likelihood of type 2 diabetes.

Back Pain – there is a strong positive correlation between lower back pain and weak back muscles.  By strengthening your lower back muscles you may alleviate or even eliminate back pain for good.

Strength training eases the pain of arthritis and osteoarthritis.  You can even reverse the process of osteoporosis by participating in resistance training.

Older adults are more likely to experience depression as they grow older.  It’s an unfortunate truth linked to many of the difficulties that we can face as we grow older including being less mobile and more frail.  I was VERY surprised to find out that exercise can not only prevent depression but it’s been scientifically proved to be JUST AS effective in treating depression as any medication! 

The research is pretty clear.  The elderly should be participating in some form of resistance training if possible.  It should be noted that you should speak with your doctor before beginning any strength conditioning program in order to meet your specific guidelines and recognize your specific health concerns.

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