Including strength training into your exercise routine as your aging will not only improve your daily life but extend your independence long after retirement.
Treat strength training like your retirement plan
If planning your finances to have a good retirement in the future, you should also consider what your health and well being will also look like at that stage.
Once over the age of 30 we start to see muscle loss of 3-8% every decade. From 50+ this percentage escalates.
How does Muscle loss effect my future?
Previously I wrote a blog on redefining “your normal”. It’s a continuously changing shape, molded by your own abilities and limited by fears, lifestyle and lack of challenging the boundaries.
Loosing muscle with age has shown that balance and walking pattern deteriorates, which increases the risk of falling. This reinforces fear and the walls of normal slowly close in.
The other factor with a decline in muscle mass is that bone density follows the same path. This is not a great combination; high falls risk and low bone density. Leaving that next fall to be potentially the next fracture.
That’s got the doom and gloom out the way!
How does resistance training fit in?
Resistance training comes in all shapes and forms. Using the right type of training should reflect on the individuals health, abilities, mobility and understanding of movement to ensure safety.
It’s well known that resistance training helps to increase muscle mass and strength. To achieve these changes there needs to be a physical and metabolic stress to exceed the demand of the muscle. This increased demand helps to stimulate muscle growth.
By applying this type of training 2-3 times per week we can slow the effects of aging and maintain the levels of independence well into our retirement age.
Resistance training can be as simple as body weight movements, gym machines, free weights, all the way to TRX suspension or High intensity training such as CrossFit.
Be careful what you read about strength training
The distorted truth through the media, of weightlifting is that it’s not safe and will cause you to suddenly have super inflated muscles. While this might be true for professional lifters that have dedicated their lives to their sport, for the average person it will provide strength and improve body composition.
The deadlift and squat are compound movements and we use them in everyday tasks. These are essential movements, when we lift things of the ground or pick the kids up we use these types of movements. Getting stronger at them will protect us from injury.
Recently there’s been some outcries from highly regarded health professionals in the States after Readers Digest published a bold article listing exercises that are “dangerous” for individuals over 50 year old. Without evidence to support these statements.
Here’s to name a few:-
- Squats with weights
- Bench press
The above list of movements all have a level of function to play in your day to day life and completely avoiding them would only lead to further weakness. The video below by the institute of Clinical excellence shows the varying resistance exercises elderly people are able to achieve.
It’s never too late
As we age there’s still potential not just to maintain but also build muscle even going into your 60’s. It is important though to find the right level of training that matches your current level of fitness and not your expectations from years gone by.
If your at a gym, a trainer might be able to guide you with the correct exercises. You may want to get professional medical advice with a specific exercise programme to match your level of conditioning and prevent injury.
What’s important is that you put some resistance training back into your life and see the improvements in your general well being.
Volpi et al (2004) Muscle tissue changes with aging
Ambrose et al (2013) Risk factors for falls among older adults: a review of the literature
Edwards M, et al. (2013) Muscle size, strength and physical performance and their association to bone structure.
Seguin, et al (2003) The benefits of strength training for older adults