The words “lifting weights” may conjure images of muscular bodybuilders but strength training is an important part of fitness, especially for seniors. Dependant on lifestyle, the average adult in their 20s and 30s and possibly into their 40s, may do enough heavy lifting when combined with cardio activities like walking, running and sports to keep their body physically fit.
As we age, however, other factors begin to weigh-in. Even an active senior, regularly participating in sports and daily walking needs strength training to stay fit, strong and independent.
Strength training helps with symptoms of osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, back pain, anxiety and depression. While these benefits get a substantial amount of attention due to their severity, there are seemingly less important benefits to consider as well.
A little research on the benefits of improved sleep, consistent glucose control, and good weight management – all benefits of strength training – shows the significant affects that improving these three things have on the previously noted conditions as well as overall health.
Independence as long as possible!
Living independently is perhaps the most important goal for seniors. One of the least noted but extremely important benefits of strength training for seniors is improved balance.
Statistics Canada lists falls as the “most common cause of injury among older Canadians.” Citing each year an estimated 1 in 3 seniors aged 65 and older are likely to fall at least once. Medical professionals list chronic health conditions, impairments such as poor vision or muscle weakness, and illnesses affecting balance as the three main reasons that seniors fall.
1. Choose 8-10 exercises. Common strength training programs utilizing machines may include:
Squats (lower body) Dumbbell Chest Press (chest) One Arm Rows (lats) Overhead Press (shoulders) Crunch (abs) Back extension (lower back)
2. Choose your reps and sets. Fitness guidelines suggest one set of 10-15 reps – using weight you can lift up to 15 times. Start out light, allowing your body to gradually respond to its new demands.
3. Choose your weights. Error on the side of caution and choose light weights in the beginning to ensure proper form throughout the exercise and avoid any injury.
4. When just starting out, limit yourself to two days per week. This will provide an acclimation period for your muscles. When you are ready, add a third day, always leaving a day between training for your muscles to rest and recover.
Still a little nervous? Gridiron Fitness in Dawson Creek is happy to help.
Visit gridiron2fit.ca or call 250-782-2348