-- Second opinion: Use it or lose it - strength training for men & women
By Lauren Langford
You know exercise is good for you. Despite its reputation as a "guy" or "jock" thing, strength training is important for everyone. With a regular strength-training program, you can reduce your body fat, increase your lean muscle mass, burn calories more efficiently, develop strong bones and reduce your risk of injury.
Older individuals need strength training for many of the same reasons as young people. Most people believe that as they age, life slows down and they should as well. Studies show that exercise can slow the physiological aging clock.
Strengthening exercises are both safe and effective for women and men of all ages, including those who are not in perfect health. In fact, people with heart disease, arthritis and other health concerns often benefit the most from an exercise program that includes lifting weights!
At around age 30, the body begins to lose muscle mass. Loss of muscle leads to weakness, loss of balance, increased risk of disease and frailty. At one time we thought this was the inevitable result of aging and nothing could be done to change the process. Research, however, has proven that much of the deterioration change is actually the result of not getting enough exercise. Regular exercise, including strength straining, is needed to keep our bodies healthy.
There are numerous benefits to strength training regularly, particularly as you grow older.
Research suggests that individuals older than 30 should do strength training at least twice a week to stop muscle loss. With age, it becomes harder to walk up and down steps. Groceries seem too heavy. A lack of muscle mass means lack of strength and results in loss of independence as weakness sets in.
Strength training also helps to lose unwanted pounds. When you slow down, your body slows down and the pounds build up. Getting proper exercise increases your metabolic rate - the rate at which your body burns fuels - by as much as 15 percent.
Strength training not only produces a strong body, but also a strong mind.
Men and women need to get regular exercise to help their minds stay fit. Strength training increases blood flow to all parts of the body.
People feel better when they are stronger. When older adults participate in strength training programs, their self-confidence and self-esteem improve, changes that have a strong impact on overall quality of life.
Good muscle tone also helps to protect. Older individuals who participate in strength training are less likely to fall due to better muscle condition. If they do fall, the stronger muscles help to protect and pad their bones, so they are likely to be less severely injured with a fall.
It is important to men and women to get regular exercise, but as we age, it is even more important to combine aerobic and strength training. If we do not take action now, we may not be able to take action later. Strength training can do wonders for your physical and emotional well-being.