Look around any large, busy gym during the day and we bet you’ll see people of all ages using the cardio equipment. But, look in the weight training area and you’ll likely see a crowd of teens and under-thirties using the dumbbells, barbells and weight-training machines.
In many gyms, the over-50 set is missing out on an essential component of personal fitness. What they may not know is that they could radically improve their quality of life down the road if they took up weight training now. Here’s why:
Reason One: Retain Muscle and Mobility
As we age, we tend to lose muscle mass, even if we are moderately active. Weight training can slow this natural process and allow us to maintain more muscle mass as we age. A recent study showed that people lose about 30 percent of their strength between ages 50 and 70. Most of us lose about 1 percent of our muscle mass per year after the age of 40. If we maintain muscle mass in our fifties and sixties, we will have a much higher quality of life in terms of mobility in our late seventies and beyond.
Reason Two: Build Healthier Bones
Weight training can also slow the loss of bone density due to aging. Women in particular can lessen the likelihood of injury due to osteoporosis by including weight training in their workouts. Studies show that weight training can protect bones as it helps prevent bone loss and osteoporosis-related fractures.
Reason Three: Stand Tall
Weight training helps us maintain a more erect posture. Decades of sitting at a desk and a lifetime of driving can weaken core muscles, causing a slump forward with age and increased forward curvature of the spine. As muscles atrophy, the combined effects of a lifetime of inactivity can result in the stooped posture that is common among many senior citizens.
Reason Four: Maintain Strength
While vigorous sports that involve anaerobic exertion and physical contact are beyond the range of most people over age 70, there’s no reason more seniors can’t continue to enjoy low impact sports such as tennis, squash, golf, cycling, jogging, swimming and even hiking, skiing and canoeing. Weight training helps maintain the muscle strength required to stay active. If you want to continue to remain engaged in your favorite sports well into your retirement, you should start building muscle strength in your fifties.
Reason Five: Prevent Falls
Falls are a common cause of fractured hips and the extended periods of recuperation that can diminish quality of life. Weight training helps develop the core strength required to improve balance, particularly if weights are used in conjunction with inflatable ball routines. Exercises performed on large, inflatable balls can enhance balance as well as improve strength and flexibility.
Best of all? Weight training doesn’t need to be a New Year’s resolution. You can start today. And, as PVE resident Dinny Fisher shares, the benefits of incorporating weight and balance training into workouts can speak volumes. “After one month of using the HUR equipment and doing personal balance training, I was walking without my cane. It really has changed my life. Most importantly, I’m back on the golf course.”