Senior fitness is something I am very passionate about! I became a Senior Fitness Specialist with American Council on Exercise (ACE) after realizing how much I enjoyed training my seniors. Sure it can be more challenging than my younger adult population in some ways, but they are so grateful and it is really worth it. I see them benefit from even just 30 minutes two times a week. It’s the consistency of these home-based workouts that can elicit many health benefits in these older adults. Having strength enough to stay independent and in their home becomes everything to them and it is so rewarding for me to help them safely stay strong and stay home. It is muscle that will help them continue to be independent, keep their bones protected and help with their balance. Muscle is everything. Here are some of the amazing health benefits strength training can bring to these older adults!
- Strength training prevents muscle loss. As we age we lose muscle, this is called sarcopenia. Age-related muscle loss can be prevented! Strength training can stimulate the growth of muscle and bone. This is so important because without muscle and bone stimulation we become frail and weak. This means that horrible word….FALLS! Strength improves balance. Balance is needed to prevent falls. Staying strong is the key.
- It is the best exercise for fall prevention. Strength training improves balance, strength and power. All these help prevent the devastation a fall can bring. One study showed strength training can reduce falls by 50%! I’d say that’s worth one hour a week!
- Strength training prevents osteoporosis. Relating to #1, when we strengthen muscle we strengthen bones. When muscles pull on bones they stimulate cells called osteoblasts to build bone. Bone is live and can be built! Using weights or bodyweight exercises will preserve your bone density, keeping your bones strong.
- Strength training will help keep you independent. Again it’s all about muscle and in turn strength. If you do not have strength for lifes’ daily activities, life changes. I find that most older adults want to maintain their independence and staying strong is paramount.
- Strength training helps you to maintain your weight. We have all heard our metabolism slows down as we age, this is mainly because of muscle loss. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn even at rest. This means your metabolism will increase with strength training which means keeping your body fat down. Think this way: More muscle=higher metabolism=leaner body.
- Strength training is good for the mind! It helps improve sleep and reduces depression. Getting stronger is empowering at any age!
- Strength training can help reduce the signs and symptoms of heart disease, arthritis and type 2 diabetes.
- New studies show strength training can help protect the brain from degeneration. Lifting weights has been able to slow or even halt degeneration, over a long period, in areas of the brain vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease. This is so exciting!
Whew! I’d say these benefits are pretty amazing wouldn’t you? If you are an older adult or have an aging parent and have been avoiding home exercise I challenge you not to. With the help of an experienced professional you can come up with a fun, safe and very effective strengthening workout without leaving home. Stay Strong Seniors! We love you!