Why strength training is important as you get older

Contrary to popular belief, strength training is extremely beneficial for older adults. In fact, I would say there is an even larger argument to perform strength training when you are older than when you are younger (however it’s good to start at a young age!). As you age, the body undertakes many changes and unfortunately, not all are good changes. However, strength training has been proven to help reduce the symptoms and occurrence of these changes.  

So what are these changes you may ask?

  • Loss of muscle mass, strength and function
  • Increased risk of falls, reduced coordination and balance 
  • Loss of bone mineral density 
  • Cognitive decline
  • Increased risk of developing chronic diseases or other health conditions 

Now let’s talk about how strength training helps to assist with the above changes.

1. Loss of muscle mass, strength, and function 

Muscle mass is a lot harder to maintain than fat. As you get older and become more inactive, muscle mass also decreases. If you perform regular strength training you will in fact retain and even gain muscle mass. The good news is, increased muscle mass and strength is associated with greater function, allowing you to perform all your daily and leisure activities with confidence. 

2. Increased risk of falls, reduced coordination and balance 

Over time, like muscle mass and strength, balance deteriorates. When balance deteriorates this causes an increased falls risk. One thing that can assist with restoring balance, is balance training in itself but also strength training. The joints of the ankle, knee and hip are utilised simultaneously to maintain balance. What then keeps these 3 joints stable to provide this balance is the function and strength of the surrounding muscles. Regular lower limb training can provide great benefits to balance!

3. Loss of bone mineral density  

Bone mineral density loss is something that naturally occurs as you age. One way however to preserve or slow down this loss is through strength and impact-based exercise. Putting load on the muscle through means of weight and impact signals the body to keep its current bone mass or to reduce how quickly it is decreasing at its natural rate. 

4. Cognitive decline 

As you get older, things such as memory retention, information processing and executive function begin to worsen. Along with this, the risk of developing disease such as Alzheimer’s or dementia also increases. Studies thus far have shown that regular strength training can help to reduce the rate of this decline and offer protective qualities to cognitive decline. 

5. Increased risk of developing chronic disease and other health conditions 

Another factor of ageing is unfortunately being more susceptible to developing chronic disease or other things such as cancers. The good news is that regular strength training helps to reduce the risk of developing chronic disease and can even be protective for some types of cancer. Overall, strength training has been shown to reduce the risk of all-cause mortality (death).

As you can see, strength training provides a huge number of benefits and you’re never too old to start. If you want to start but you aren’t feeling sure how to, get in contact with us and we will be more than happy to guide you in the right direction 🙂

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