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Strength Training, or the War on Weakness

By , 4:52 pm on

We all want to keep doing what we like to do, from toddler to older adult.  That’s independence defined—something we all need to fight for, not with muskets, but weights and cardio.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Growing Stronger, Strength Training for Older Adults,” can help us fight the battle for independence and control over our own body’s physical abilities and the pull of the recliner.  Retirement from the workforce does not give us a pass from the battlefield of physical exercise programs; just the opposite, since people with conditions like arthritis and heart disease can benefit greatly from hoisting a set of weights and kicking up dust on the walking trail.  Aside from the physical gains, we feel good when we exercise, which in turn helps us feeling better about ourselves and actually helps us be healthier.  If that sounded like circular logic, it almost is.   See “Well-Being Has A Lot To Do With How You Feel About Your Life,” a former blog post, for the whole theory.

Mature and older adults garner significant benefits when they make strength training part of every week’s exercise routine.  Even the effects of these chronic conditions and diseases can be diminished:

  • Depression: Exercise pumps endorphins through our brains, making us feel great.  That bio-chemical change makes us feel better about ourselves and our ability to function.  This, combined with the joy of physical achievement, especially if recovering from recent surgery or illness, is often more powerful than anti-depressant medication.
  • Bone loss and fragility: Aging makes women lose bone mass.  Strength training can reduce the likelihood of fractures for women of 50-70 years and can mean greater mobility for longer.
  • Arthritis: Exercise can reduce arthritis pain up to 43%, according to Tufts University.  Other gains included increased muscle strength and decreased disability.
  • Diabetes: Strength training resulted in a dramatic improvement in glucose control and for study participants, it also led to more muscle, less body fat, less depression and more self-confidence.
  • Obesity: People who do strength training routines constantly burn more calories than those who don’t because those who lift weights have more muscle mass and therefore a higher metabolic rate.
  • Better balance: One in five falls experienced by older adults results in death, with many non-fatal falls ending mobility. People incorporating strength training into their lives can reduce their likelihood of falling considerably because they increase their balance, flexibility, and bone strength.

Win the battle for independence for yourself: keep exercising with a focus on heart-pumping cardio and muscle building strength training.