The benefits of resistance training for seniors are impressive. One study in particular shows twenty to thirty minutes of resistance training, two to three times per week, positively affects cardiovascular disorders, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Let’s look at the importance of resistance training for seniors, enhancing health and boosting longevity.
Resistance training involves working against a force, such as body weight, free weights, or resistance bands, to improve strength and overall physical health.
Resistance training improves muscle mass, bone health, weight management, and well-being.
Sarcopenia (decline in skeletal muscle) is a natural process of aging. We can help prevent/slow this down by increasing muscle mass.
Osteoporosis (weakened bones) is common among seniors. This increases the likelihood of falls, fractures, or breaks. Resistance training helps to strengthen bones and prevent falls.
Consistency is essential to reap the benefits of resistance training. People should make it part of their daily lifestyle for lasting results.
Resistance training is important for building muscle mass and improving fitness levels for seniors. As we age, our bodies' natural processes, such as bone density, metabolism, and strength, slow down. One study, in particular, shows the subjects who did resistance training improved muscle mass by thirty-nine percent compared to the control group. Might resistance training be the key to living a healthier, longer life? Read on to find out.
Is resistance training effective?
Resistance training has been scientifically proven to improve muscle mass, bone health, and support metabolism. Increased muscle mass is essential for seniors to prevent falls and injuries. One study shows that seniors who did resistance training three times per week for just thirty minutes showed significant improvements in muscle strength, mobility, stamina, and heart health.
Metabolism naturally tends to slow down as we age. This can be the result of muscle loss. Lower levels of muscle mass result in burning fewer calories when resting. An effective solution could be adding resistance training into one's routine to prevent this decline. It's important to note that other lifestyle choices, such as activity levels, nutrition, and hormonal changes, can all influence muscle mass and metabolism.
Preventing osteoporosis with resistance training
Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which bones lose mass and density. Millions of people worldwide live with osteoporosis. Severe cases may lead to bones becoming extremely thin and brittle. This creates instability within the body, increasing the risk of falls, fractures, and breaks. Resistance training stimulates bone growth by placing "stress" on them, increasing density. This helps improve body stability, reducing the likelihood of falls.
Osteoporosis negatively affects posture, often creating rounding in the back and shoulders. This can be due to compression fractures, which may make the spine appear shorter. Resistance training helps strengthen, lengthen, and create a mind-body connection, improving posture and spinal flexibility.
Benefits of resistance training for seniors
Our bodies weaken as we age, often making it more difficult to perform normal, everyday tasks. Keeping bones and muscles stronger by staying active helps older adults live longer, healthier lives. The benefits of resistance training for seniors include the following:
- Improved muscle mass and strength. Resistance training has been scientifically proven to increase muscle mass in seniors.
- Improved mobility. Better spinal flexibility positively affects posture.
- Prevents osteoporosis. Stronger bones reduce the likelihood of falls, fractures, and breaks.
- Improved balance and coordination. Important for preventing falls while improving memory and cognitive function.
- Enhanced well-being. Influencing healthy lifestyle choices and improving quality of life.
Resistance training vs. cardio
Resistance training is significantly better for improving muscle strength compared to cardio. Resistance causes micro-muscle tears, which force the body to repair and strengthen the fibers. This leads to increased muscle size over time. Additionally, resistance training allows for progressive overload (gradually increasing resistance/weight), matching training intensity to a person's current level while increasing the load as they get stronger. Furthermore, resistance training improves balance and coordination better than cardio. This can enhance proprioceptors (body awareness in space), reducing the risk of injuries and falls. One study, in particular, says resistance training is the optimal strategy for improving muscle and bone mass in the older population.
Cardio also offers physical health benefits. Exercise such as running, swimming, or cycling improves the efficiency of the heart and lungs. This positively impacts blood pressure while preventing cardiovascular-related conditions. While cardiovascular exercise offers some strength benefits, resistance training offers considerably more. For instance, cardio wears away muscle tissue, which we want to preserve for seniors. Certain types of cardio (e.g., running) can strain joints excessively, while other forms (e.g., swimming) are much more gentle.
The final word
Overall, resistance training is extremely beneficial for seniors. Consistent practice can improve muscle mass, mobility, bone density, and metabolism. All it takes is twenty to thirty minutes, two to three times a week, to experience these benefits. It’s important to start slowly, perhaps first with body-weight exercises to hone technique. Once comfortable, seniors may incorporate weights, bands, or machines. While seniors can do resistance training at home or the gym, scheduling a couple of one-on-ones with a professional trainer may be beneficial to ensure correct form first. Along with the physical health benefits, resistance training also enhances mental well-being. This can be beneficial to our mood while reducing stress.
Movement may provide seniors with a stronger sense of purpose and control over their health. This may also positively impact other lifestyle choices such as daily activity, nutrition, and sleep. Remember, aging is a natural process that everyone experiences. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Instead, finding ways to support our physical and mental health promotes longevity and increases overall quality of life.
- Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. The Intensity and Effects of Strength Training in the Elderly.
- Current Opinion in Rheumatology. Sarcopenia in older adults.
- Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management. A comprehensive overview on osteoporosis and its risk factors.