Forever Young: How Strength Training Can Help You Age Gracefully

If you think strength training is only for bodybuilders or professional athletes, you’re missing out. Lifting weights or adding resistance exercises to your routine provides health benefits that can drastically improve your quality of life as you age and even help you live longer.

The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend that all adults strength train at least twice a week. A recent study reports that adults who did so “had 46 percent lower odds of death for any reason than those who did not,” along with “41 percent lower odds of cardiac death and 19 percent lower odds of dying from cancer.”

If living longer isn’t enough to motivate you to break out the weights or resistance bands, check out these benefits, which will help you live every day with gusto.

  1. Better balance. Regular strength training has been shown to help reduce the incidence of falls. This is important as you age since falls can lead to broken bones and other injuries that diminish mobility and lead to reduced independence.
  2. More sleep. If you’re not sleeping as soundly as you used to, adding weights to your workout could help.
  3. Sharper brain. Research shows that resistance training can improve brain cognition, particularly when it comes to memory-related tasks.
  4. Healthier body. If you’re not strength training, you’re losing muscle. Unfortunately, the pounds of muscle you lose will likely be replaced with fat, which can increase your risk for heart disease and obesity. For women, strength training can also help decrease your risk for osteoporosis as it helps to strengthen bones.

Not sure how to start strength training? The Centers for Disease Control has a great guide geared specifically toward older adults. Download it here.

Photo credit: Suketu Gajjar

 

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