Is weight training part of your fitness routine? With so much focus on cardiovascular exercise, resistance training gets neglected. If you’re not pumping iron, you’re missing out on the powerful benefits of weight training for seniors.
Health Benefits of Weight Lifting:
Ace Your ADLs
Getting dressed. Making meals. Moving in and out of bed. All of these activities of daily living (ADLs) require muscular strength and endurance. As we age, a key goal is to remain as independent as possible. The old saying “use it or lose it” applies to maintaining our physical functioning.
Resistance training makes remaining functionally independent possible. You’ll notice that you don’t become as tired playing with the grandkids. Carrying those groceries becomes a breeze. During your favorite hobbies, you’ll have more endurance and less muscular soreness.
Boost Bone Mass
Bones not only protect our internal organs, but aid in moving our bodies. After age 30, bone loss accelerates. If you’re not incorporating resistance training into your workouts, you’re losing bone mass year after year.
Yes, some forms of cardiovascular exercise can increase bone mass. Yet, this pales in comparison to the effect weight training has on bone development. Bottom line, start lifting to increase your bone density.
Want to banish depression and increase your self-esteem? Lift those weights! Feel better about yourself after lifting weights as you know that you are capable of accomplishing your goals. Know that you are doing something great for your body, mind, and spirit.
Weight training releases natural feel good hormones called endorphins. This reduces depression naturally and creates a more positive body image.
Watch Your Weight
Building more muscle turns your body into a fat burning furnace. Increasing your resting metabolism means that you can be at rest and still be expending calories.
Weight training also encourages your body to better utilize glucose. Insulin resistance is a major contributor to stubborn weight gain. Resistance training enables metabolic balance.
Sound Sleep at Night
Having trouble getting a good night’s sleep? Weight training stimulates the pineal gland in the brain to release the hormone melatonin. Melatonin has anti-aging effects.
As you sleep deeper, you’ll maintain muscle mass and reduce stress and anxiety. Be sure to space your workout a few hours away from your bedtime. Late night exercise may affect your ability to fall and stay asleep.
Weight lifting really is the fountain of youth. There is evidence that lifting releases a natural growth hormone (GH) and other anti-aging growth factors. Weight training also boosts testosterone levels. Yes, ladies, even you benefit from this slight boost in testosterone.
Increase your libido naturally, maintain your skin’s integrity, and see fewer wrinkles in the mirror. All due to the power of weight training for seniors.
Weight Training Tips:
See Your Doctor
If you’re sedentary and haven’t exercised in quite some time, get clearance from your doctor first. Weight training is great. But, you don’t want to make any underlying medical problems worse.
Hire a Trainer
A good trainer will teach you proper body mechanics and set up a weight lifting regimen that works for your goals. Choose a trainer that has knowledge about weight training for seniors. They will design a program that fits your personal needs.
Ease into Exercise
With any new activity, it’s easy to go overboard and do too much. Try to ease into your workout. Do too much, too soon and you may end up with an injury. Start light and gradually increase the weight over time.
Stick to the Basics
Compound exercises use more muscle groups, save time, and generate better results. As the bones of the spine and hips are particularly prone to breakdown, focus on exercises that build up those areas.
Bench or chest press, rows, squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses load weight on the spine and reduce the risk of bone loss.
These exercises also mimic functional ADL movements that we use in everyday life. We use a rowing motion when we close a door. We squat to sit down in a chair.
Once cleared from your doctor or trainer, and you have worked out for some time, don’t be afraid to lift heavier. You’ll know when to increase the weight as it will feel lighter over time. Build more muscle with progressive resistance.
Mix it Up
Vary your routine and use your muscles in a different way. It’ll keep your workout fun and you’ll be less likely to get an injury from repetitive movements. Over time, you’ll notice more muscle growth and strength.
Incorporate these weight training tips into your daily life. Then, experience positive changes in your physical and emotional well-being.