Many physiologists and researchers considering Strength Conditioning to be the true Fountain of Youth – the magic “pill” to reverse or prevent a significant portion of the aging process.
Many of the changes people experience as they age are due to a loss in muscle mass. So if we can maintain a significant amount of muscle tissue as we age, we can expect to age much more slowly.
Let’s look at some of the research and benefits of strength training:
Strength training will increase muscle endurance and strength, improve bone density and posture, boost your metabolism, increase functional capacity, improve your blood pressure and blood lipid levels, decrease joint pain and reduce your risk of falling. In addition, muscle looks good and can improve your overall self esteem and confidence. You’ll move with better strength, balance, coordination and agility and your performance in your recreational pursuits will be enhanced significantly.
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Let’s look at some specific research studies:
One researcher, Dr. Frontera, performed a Strength Training study on 60-70 year olds. He had his subjects exercise at 80% of their capacity – a pretty high intensity program. The findings of the study shattered myths about aging. There were no injuries and no cardiac episodes during the training protocol. In just 12 weeks, the muscles that were trained became 10-12% larger and 100-175% stronger! Traditionally strength-training exercise was performed on seniors at only 40-50% of their capacity – a much lower intensity – for fear of injury or health risks. Dr. Frontera’s study showed that it’s never too late to start to lift and it’s ok to work hard at an older age because you will experience significant improvements at this intensity level. This type of increase in muscle mass and strength will significantly improve an individual’s body composition, posture, bone density, agility, coordination, power, reaction time, and their ability to perform daily movements with greater ease.
Another researcher, Dr. Fiatarone performed a study with high-risk subjects between the ages of 86-96 year olds and each having at least 2 chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Most relied on walkers or canes and several had leg muscles that were so weak that they couldn’t even rise from a chair without assistance from their arms. They exercised 3x/week for 8 weeks. In just 8 weeks, these frail, elderly men and women increased their strength by an average of 175%. On a test of walking, speed and balance, their scores rose by an average of 48%. Two participants discarded their canes. Again, imagine their improved quality of life. For this group, it’s not about looking better – it’s about living life to its fullest. If this group can experience such dramatic improvements, can you imagine the benefits you’d achieve!
Another research study at the University of Colorado compared sedentary and active post-menopausal women ages 50-72 with women ages 21-35. The older women who were not exercising showed the expected decrease in basal metabolic rate compared to the younger participants. But the older women who were physically active had the same basal metabolic rate on average as active women half their age. This means that the active post-menopausal women will be much more able to maintain a healthy body weight as they age. So you have to question whether the common 10-pound weight gain every 10 years is a result of aging or just inactivity and a loss in muscle mass.
The evidence is conclusive that strength training will bring forth numerous results and definitely deserves the title “Fountain of Youth”.
Yours in health & fitness,
Join us for our Scary Run – Half Marathon, 10k & 5k
Oct. 29th in Washougal, WA
This race is a fun, costume-themed run/walk. Although titled ‘Scary Run’ your costume doesn’t need to be scary. Be creative and dress in any costume you like as long as you can comfortably and safely run and walk. Feel free to get together with friends and come up with a fun costume theme.