Health Benefits of Strength Training: Calling All Ages
Exercise doesn’t discriminate based on age. You’re encouraged to start while you’re young; but that doesn’t mean you should quit when you get older.
Regular physical activity is a fun way to relieve stress, and scientific evidence shows that it’s safe for almost anyone.
Exercise for all ages
Strength training, in conjunction with regular aerobic exercise, can have a profound effect on your mental and emotional health. Running your muscles through the paces can help you deal with depression, similar to, if not better than, normal depression medicine. Currently, it is not known if this is because people feel better when they’re stronger, or if strength training produces a helpful biochemical change in the brain. It is most likely a combination of the two. When adults participate in exercise programs, their self-confidence and self-esteem improve, which also has a strong impact on their overall quality of life.
Are you thinking, “That sounds great, but what about a sudden heart attack or the very real risk of injury?” Some people should check with a physician, but most people who already have health concerns—heart disease or arthritis—will be surprised to learn that they’ll often benefit the most from an exercise program designed for older individuals that includes lifting weights a few times each week.
You should check with your physician and only be concerned if you have a chronic disease such as a heart condition, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure or symptoms that could be due to a chronic disease, it is important that you consult your physician before implementing a workout routine into your life.
If you’re in adequate health, you have nothing to worry about. Have fun and go pump that iron.
Benefits to getting your fitness on
According to Doctor of Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopaedic Specialist, Licensed Athletic Trainer and NSCA Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Sean Wells, there are some major things exercise programs for older patients should focus on. These include resistance training, and exercises that target the ankles, hips and thighs for fall prevention and bone growth.
Resistance training is the use of bands, dumbbells, and machines to increase the resistance of movement through a specific motion. This type of exercise has been shown to improve muscular strength, endurance, reduce the risk of falls, as well as increase bone mineral density, according to Dr. Wells.
In addition to physical fitness, strength training, in your older years, can also help reduce signs and symptoms of many chronic diseases, including arthritis.
Tufts University recently completed a strength-training program with older men and women who had moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis. After completing a 16-week program, results showed strength training decreased pain by 43%; increased muscle strength and general physical performance; improved the clinical signs and symptoms of the disease; and decreased disability.
The effectiveness of strength training to help ease the pain of osteoarthritis was just as effective, if not more effective, than treatment with medications.
Additionally, a large Cochrane study in 2009 reviewed all the literature on knee arthritis. The study found that those with knee arthritis had similar levels of pain if they either exercised, or took Ibuprofen as a remedy.
The major perk to the participants that exercised: they had improved strength, endurance, and better mobility than those solely taking Ibuprofen.
Motivation, motivation, motivation
Exercise programs for older patients certainly have more perks than drawbacks. So what are you waiting for?
Before you decide you’re going to be the next superman, keep in mind that it’s important to find the right balance between exercising conservatively to prevent injury and exercising consistently to increase your strength.
If you want to keep your motivation up, it’s not a bad idea to ease into your new workout routine and make a conscious effort to celebrate small victories. You deserve that pat on the back.