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Wednesday , October 18 2017
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Strength training for seniors

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Over 40? Strength training for seniors will build muscle as fast as a 21-year-old

So you think you should slow down as you get older?

Strength training for seniors tells us that slowing down is not the way.

I have bad news for you–the exact opposite of slowing down is the way to go. You need to work harder to stay fit the older you get.

The good news is that you can remain strong and vital as long as you’re alive. And the better news is that even if you’ve been a couch potato for years, you can regain much of the strength lost because of inactivity. When you take it easy because you are older,” your body responds by letting your muscles waste away. Literally, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

In fact, beginning at maturity (about age 30), our bodies lose a one-half pound of muscle each year to sarcopenia—wasting away of flesh. By the time you’re 40, unless you are very active and work to keep your muscle, you’ll already have lost five pounds of muscle. Guess what your body replaces it with–you’re right–fat! Fat uses only one to two calories a day per pound to sustain itself; muscles use about 50 calories per pound. So losing those five pounds of muscle means that your body needs 250 calories less each day to maintain your weight. This explains the myth that your metabolism slows as you get older. By the time you’re 60, you’ve lost 15 pounds of muscle which is now fat. No wonder it’s difficult to get up off the couch.

To learn more about metabolism and weight loss, click here.

Only 8 percent of United States adults currently exercise at recommended levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 92 percent of American retirees do no meaningful exercise and that one-half are completely sedentary. Not exercising your body leads to many health problems. Up to 250,000 deaths per year in the United States–about 12 percent of total deaths—are due to a lack of regular physical activity.

Here are three common misconceptions about aging:

1. Aging is synonymous with debilitating chronic illness.

2. Older people should not exercise because it might hurt them or debilitate the strength they have left.

3. Exercise can’t possibly help. By the time you’re 60 or 65, the damage has already been done and it cannot be reversed.

The truth is that much of the so-called inevitable decline as we age is not inevitable—however, the older you become, the more you need regular exercise. It increases muscle strength which will help improve balance and coordination which in turn reduces the chances of falling. Falls are one of the main causes of injuries for older adults. Poor balance is a concern for many–I hear it over and over in my work with older adults–and I tell them that if they strengthen their legs, their balance should improve dramatically. You cannot have good balance when you have no muscle strength in your legs.

Strength training also helps fight the pain and stiffness of arthritis–both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It would seem that moving painful joints would damage them further but the opposite is true.

Strength training also helps fight the pain and stiffness of arthritis–both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It would seem that moving painful joints would damage them further but the opposite is true.

Exercise, especially strength training and gardening, also helps to prevent and reverse bone loss. Usually, those with osteoporosis find that when they strength train regularly, their bone mass gradually increases, which decreases the risk of breaking bones.

Strength training for seniors also reduces the risk of dozens of diseases associated with aging. It can serve as a preventive measure and as a treatment for many clinical conditions. It can provide increased muscle strength, flexibility, the range of motion, balance, endurance and better posture—all of which promote independence. It helps to reduce chances of heart disease and other health problems.

Exercise can help you sleep better, make you feel better, look better and improve your self-image and self-concept. Exercise also acts as a buffer against many illnesses that are related to stress.

Recent research is proving that strength training for seniors also provides increased aerobic power.

And—best of all—if you exercise with other adults over 40, strength training for seniors can expand your social horizons by putting you in touch with others who care about their health.

Older adults rebuild lost muscles at the same rate as do younger people. Your muscles do not become permanently weak. It’s just that when you don’t use them, your body decides that it doesn’t need to be strong any longer.

An extreme example is Gladys, who joined my strength training class when she was 91. She was in a wheelchair and unable to stand by herself. It took two people to assist her to transfer to a regular chair. After only eight weeks of working to make her legs stronger, she was able to pull herself up to a standing position by holding to the back of a chair and then to sit down by herself nine times for one minute. Now 10 months later, she uses her walker some of the time and is able to transfer easily from the wheelchair to a regular chair by herself.

Another adult, Jim, who is in his upper 70’s and who used a cane when he began strength training, is moving from the assisted living home where he currently resides to an apartment–without his cane.

I promise you that you can–and will–become stronger–no matter how old you are.

Click here for more info about exercise after 70

So if you decide to exercise, what kind of exercise is best and how long will it take?

First–you’ll need to check with your primary care physician to get his or her okay. Unless you have major problems, he will probably be delighted to give his blessing to an exercise program for you.

You will need both strength training and cardiovascular exercise for a balanced fitness program. You also need to stretch your joints each day to help keep them flexible and pain-free.

Strength training for seniors means that you exercise using either dumbbells (free weights), machines or body weight for resistance. You can join a fitness center or exercise at home.

If you prefer working out at home, my strength training for seniors video can get you started–“Over 40 & Goin’ Strong.”

It’s an easy-to-learn workout for beginners and older adults and will lead you gently through a strength training workout including stretching and cooldown. I demonstrate the exercises and do them with you. It will be easy, I promise.

Strength training for seniors needs to be done only twice a week–this leaves you five days to do some brisk walking for the cardiovascular phase of your program. You should walk at least 30 minutes–no moseying or meandering–you need to walk quickly. Or you can do other cardiovascular exercises–such as swimming, tennis playing, etc.

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