It’s a well-known fact that resistance training provides several health benefits such as improving fitness level, reducing risk factors for developing a chronic lifestyle disease, aesthetically good looking physique and more pleasing appearance.

Resistance Training For Seniors Over 50, 60 Or Even 65

Most of the adults above the age of 50, even including those who are physically fit, misguidedly believe that only the young & fit should do resistance training with weights. This is a totally wrong notion.

On the contrary, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2018 came out with the 2nd Edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans in 2018 – which categorically included the following recommendation:

“Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits. As part of their weekly physical activity, older adults should do multicomponent physical activity that includes balance training as well as aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.” [Source]

A group of researchers studied the data from the 1997-2001 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) linked to death certificate data (for study participants) through 2011 to analyze (analyses were limited to adults age 65years and older)  & ascertain how following these guidelines affects mortality. It was found, active agers who did strength training at least 2 times a week had 46% less risk of dying for any reason than who did not participate in strength training. Moreover, adults in the survey who participated in regular strength training had 41% lesser risks of cardiac death & an almost 20% lower odds of dying from cancer. In addition, those who performed strength training were more likely to have a normal body weight, do aerobic exercise and refrain from alcohol & tobacco too.

So undoubtedly, if you desire to improve health, augment quality of life & enhance your overall lifespan, think about adding resistance training to your existing level of physical activity.

Why The Seniors Should Do Resistance Training?

Here are 6 reasons for those who are still unconvinced, explaining why they should do resistance training – particularly if they are above the age of 50, 60 or even 65:

1. The adults over the age of 50 should aim for increasing strength instead of increasing size (hypertrophy). There is a difference between the two. Whereas, doing a high number of reps can lead to hypertrophy (increase in muscle size), for adults above 50, the aim should unquestionably be on enhancing muscle strength by using more weight. Using heavier resistance (obviously means fewer repetitions) can increase the force output of a muscle without considerably changing its size.

2. Active agers can use resistance-training machines that allow using greater amounts of resistance safely, which can provide higher benefits. Resistance training is safe for everyone, particularly active agers, and machines provide the greater gains with the lower chances of injury.

3. Multi-joint, compound workouts like the chest press, shoulder press, leg press, lat pulldown or seated row can enhance muscle-coordination, increase capability of many muscles to work together to produce & control high levels of force through multiple joints.

4. Resistance exercises result into elevating levels of anabolic, muscle-building hormones – particularly growth hormone, testosterone & insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which all help repair muscle fibers damaged in the course of workouts. Irrespective of the age, strength training help your body get more efficient to produce the hormones that can help repair & build muscle. 

5. Lifting heavy weights enhances the hormone IGF-1, which improves the generation of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). This protein helps stimulate growth of new neurons in the brain & improve communication between existing pathways.

The bottom line is, lifting heavy weights can make you become smarter by enhancing levels of brain-building chemicals.

6. Resistance training using heavy stuff helps boost your self-confidence. Knowing that you can lift heavy weights provides impetus & boost your confidence that you can deal with day-to-day challenges, like placing heavy stuff in the overhead bin on an airplane, carrying heavy grocery bags or moving heavy house hold items – furniture, etc.

Take away:

Whereas all exercise offers general health benefits, regular resistance training is one of the fastest methods to get the specific benefits as outlined above.

To gain maximum strength benefits from resistance training—at any age—you should try to use enough weight to cause fatigue within 6 to 12 reps. By fatigue, I mean a stage where your muscles are unable to complete another rep. This is the secret to get best results from resistance training – that is you perform an exercise to the point of fatigue.

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