Why strength training is important for older adults
As we age, staying physically active to maintain our overall health becomes more important than ever. Unfortunately, it also becomes more of a challenge. Whether it’s due to age-related concerns like osteoporosis, medical conditions like arthritis, diabetes or heart problems, or simply due to life slowing you down, keeping up your fitness routine might feel like too much work.
Ben Kelley with Apex Athletic Performance offered a solution that can help you stay physically fit into your golden years – strength training.
How often should senior adults exercise?
“The Centers for Disease Control and National Health Service both recommend that adults 65 years of age and older need at least two days a week of what they call, ‘strengthening activities,’ but neither organization is clear on what that should entail,” said Kelley.
He noted that older adults have a pretty diverse array of abilities, coordination and strength capability, making each situation unique and difficult to generalize.
Is getting out for a walk enough to keep an older adult healthy?
“In the past, it was thought that older individuals only needed aerobic exercise, like frequent walks, to maintain their health,” said Kelley. “Since the early 2000s, though, health agencies worldwide have been emphasizing activities more focused on building or maintaining strength when it comes to senior adults.”
The problem with suggesting strength exercises, Kelley noted, is that many people don’t understand exactly what counts as strength training, and that lack of awareness and knowledge can hold them back from building up strength and resilience as they age.
A few examples of exercises that focus on building and maintaining your overall strength and/or flexibility include:
- Lifting weights
- Working with resistance bands
- Heavy gardening tasks like digging or shoveling
- Climbing stairs
How does strength training benefit adults over 65?
“Strength and resistance training have both been shown repeatedly in current research to reduce muscle loss and the loss of motor function in the elderly,” said Kelley. “Not only does it help preserve these functions, but strength training can also help improve psychological and social function of elderly adults, too.”
With an increase in loneliness and isolation since the pandemic began in 2020 creating marked negative effects in elderly adults, time spent out exercising with friends, a fitness trainer or simply going to the gym can provide an incredible improvement in well-being and emotional regulation.
“The current population of adults over 65 is increasing and will only continue to grow over the next couple of decades,” said Kelley. “We have a responsibility to care for those who came before us, and that includes advocating for the most effective ways of reducing the impacts of aging.”
Strength training designed for older adults is an essential part of maintaining your muscle strength and function and is an important aspect of your fitness routine. Emphasize strength and resistance training in your workouts and the benefits will last a lifetime.
Find an orthopedic specialist you trust
Find a provider who’s right for you by viewing their online profiles, star ratings and reviews.Find an Orthopedic Doctor