Lifting Weights Isn't Just For the Young

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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I am 55 and 3 days a week for 45 minutes each time I lift weights. I do know that it's so good for me. I do try to challenge myself. I love my strength training workouts. Report
Just turned 50, and YES I strength train, generally 3 times a week. I love feeling stronger, more fit, and firmer. I like knowing that I'm better at 50 than I was at different ages during my younger years. Report
I just turned 50 and have been trying to st on a regular basis. I usually let life get the best of my better judgment but after reading this article, I realize that now is a great time to reassess my priorities if I don't want to be a burden on someone later on! Report
I'm not 50 yet, but I'm gaining ground fast ! LOL !!! I've become a firm believer in the benefits of strength training. And like Jack Lalanne, I expect to be doing some type of strength work well into my 90s and beyond. Now, I don't expect to be pulling 85 row boats with my teeth !!! LOL !!! But, I do want to be strong and independent.

I am 51 and started ST with a trainer 2 years ago and I am in the best shape of my life! It is a must for everyone and start young, don't wait until you are 50. Report
I do strength train, but not as consistently as I should - that's another goal for this year. Report
I agree with the above. - and I am no longer on osteo meds! and I do think it helps my running! Report
I am 70 and I do continue with strength training 3 x a week along with cardio. Report
All I can sayis this. I'm 63 and have been strength training for 11 years now. My personal trainer keeps me ambulatory and together we are staving off knee replacement surgery. I only wish I started strength training when I was younger. Report
I am 76. I elliptical for 30 mins most days and strenght and balance and yoga stretches (silver sneakers) 2-3 times a week most weeks. I'v e lost 20 pounds and now starting again for another 20. I love this site. Report
I am in my 60ies and I do cardio 5 - 6 days/week and ST e3 - 4 days/week
It really helps in my every day life,and my overall outlook on life. Report
I am 59 and I ST frequently. ST'g reduces stress, enables good posture and I feel strong and confident. I can approach most tasks in my life with more endurance - lifting, etc). I do P90X, use total gym and Pilate’s reformer. I believe it has also haa a positive impact on my running. Report
I am not over 50 but am very close to it and strength training is super important to me. I do what is called functional (strength and metabolic) training and find that it has consistently helped me to avoid pain (from movements like snow shoveling) and falls (from walking on ice) in everyday life. My father, in his 70s, still does strength training and is as fit as ever. He is one of my motivations. I believe that it is because of the strength training that my bone density test and other physiological tests come out so good. Plus, it just makes me feel great and a lot more confident! Report
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