Why Strength Training For Seniors?

Strength training at Kirby Pines

Yes, you’ll get stronger and more toned – but those aren’t the only reasons to strength train. Scientists continue to discover benefits of strength training or resistance training. It can be done using light weights, elastic bands or even your own body weight (think wall push-ups, mini squats and calf raises). Here are four more good reasons to start.

  1. IT REDUCES PAIN. A small study, published in the July 2012 International Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that men with rheumatoid arthritis affecting their knees had a 23 percent reduction in pain intensity after following a three-day-a-week strength-training program for eight weeks. Other studies show strength training relieves the pain of osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, too. In the Oasis, the leg extension and seated-leg-curl machine will help with strengthening the muscles around the knee.
  2. IT INCREASES RANGE OF MOTION. Another small study, published in the December 2011 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that participants who practiced resistance training three days a week for five weeks had the same flexibility improvements as those who did a regular stretching routine. Stretching and strengthening are both important. Water aerobics can help with both.
  3. IT BLASTS CALORIES – even when you’re not working out. Muscle burns calories, so adding muscle mass naturally amps up your calorie burn. In fact, an analysis of several studies, reported in the July-August 2012 Current Sports Medicine Reports, shows the number of calories you burn at rest rises about 7 percent after several weeks of resistance training.
  4. IT BOOSTS BONE DENSITY. Women lose up to 50 percent of their bone tissue in their lifetime post-menopause. By age 65 or 70, men begin to lose bone mass at the same rate as women, according to the National Institutes of Health. Lifting weights can help slow that loss and increase bone density, according to a 2015 review in the scientific journal of the American Physical Therapy Association.

Seniors are often overwhelmed by all the different machines and other fitness tools a gym has to offer. However, a distinction can be made between two main kinds of exercises: free weight exercises and machine exercises. Machines can be very useful to anyone that wants to isolate a certain muscle. Free weights are dumbbells and barbells, and often people make use of both free weights and machines.

To start a workout program: You’ve probably heard people talk about reps and sets. Sets are the amount of times an exercise is done. Every set consists of reps (repetitions), which is the number of times the movement (for example bicep curls) are done 4-6 repetitions for strength training, 6-12 reps for muscle growth, 12-15 reps for toning the muscles and endurance. Another thing that is important, is to rest between sets. Rest as long as it takes to resume normal breathing again, which is usually, between 60 to 90 seconds. Most exercises are between 2 and 3 sets, and 8 to 12 reps, however, this depends on your goals and whatever feels good to you.

Safety is very important, so start off slow. Furthermore, proper form and good intensity is most important. It is recommended to consult your doctor before starting a workout program. Start slow, build up and stop doing an exercise as soon as it starts to feel uncomfortable or starts hurting.

Get trained. Make an afternoon appointment with Mary Hand to learn the best techniques for using free weights and the resistance equipment in the Oasis.