The benefits of exercise for seniors
The benefits of regular exercise for seniors is well documented in the health care community.
But sadly, only one in four people between the ages of 65 and 74 exercise regularly.
According to the National Institute for Ageing, exercise is especially good for seniors and can ease symptoms of many chronic conditions. And contrary to popular belief, weakness and poor balance are actually linked more to inactivity than age.
So what kind of exercise should seniors be doing?
Research shows that progressive resistance exercise (lifting weights) provides all of these benefits.
Here are some of the perks of proper strength training for seniors:
Maintain Independence – If you don’t even have the strength to get up out of a chair, it’s pretty tough to remain independent. And the more strength you have, the more options you have for sports and leisure activities as you age. The weaker we become, the more likely that we will become dependent on someone else to take care of us.
Cognitive ability – Studies by researcher Teresa Liu-Ambrose show that strength training once or twice a week benefited the executive cognitive functions of selective attention and conflict resolution (which also correlated to increased walking speed).
Decreased fall risk – Increased lower body strength, particularly the gluteus maximus and tibialis anterior (the butt and shin muscles) have been shown to enhance righting reactions and help prevent falls.
Stronger bones – Strength training is a safe, efficient way to perform weight-bearing exercise, which any doctor will tell you is the key to bone growth and keeping osteoporosis at bay.
It’s never too late
No matter how old you are, strength training exercise can improve your quality of life, and you don’t have to spend a lot of time doing it to see and feel improvements.
Like everyone else, seniors need to strength train regularly to stay healthy and maintain as much functionality as possible.
If you’ve never lifted weights before, you may want to work with a personal trainer to learn the proper way to lift. Make sure your trainer has experience in working with seniors, particularly if you have any medical conditions, injuries or joint problems.
About the author:
Dave Durell has been improving the quality of people’s lives through strength training for over 38 years. He is co-founder (with wife Patty) of Rock Solid Fitness Personal Training in Dunedin, Florida, a former Collegiate and NFL Strength Coach, and a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant. He also operates the popular website StrengthAfter50.com .