When you think of weight lifting, especially at a gym, images of muscular men and thin, young women might come to mind. It's easy to be intimidated, or think that after a certain age the only exercise you really need is a daily walk. But that's not true. New research is showing that adults who start a regular strength training program can help minimize muscle loss and increase independence as they age.
The analysis (which complied data from previous research), was published in a recent issue of the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Researchers found that "older adults gain an average of 2.42 pounds of lean body mass, primarily muscle, after strength training for approximately 20 weeks." Past studies have found that sedentary adults over age 50 lose about 0.4 pounds of muscle each year. A regular strength routine can counteract this muscle loss, in addition to delaying sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and coordination that happens naturally as we age. Aerobic exercise alone isn't enough to prevent sarcopenia. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, strength and balance training is even more important than aerobic exercise, and women face a greater risk than men since they start out with less muscle. Eventually sarcopenia leads to loss of mobility and independence.
Coach Nancy recently blogged about Why Strength Training is a Necessity for Older Adults. The key isn't only to do regular strength training, but to be sure you're consistently challenging yourself. Whether that means increasing the number of repetitions, the amount of weight lifted, or the kinds of exercises, changing up your routine will help with continued progress and results.
Find out more about why Strength Training is a Must for Everyone and how you can Learn to Love Strength Training.
If you are over 50, do you strength train regularly? Why or why not?
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