The importance of strength training for older individuals

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Strength or resistance training is an important aspect of health, regardless of age.  It is the use of resistance to muscular contraction to increase one’s strength and muscle size. When done correctly it can fight weakness and frailty and their debilitating consequences. As highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) strength training is paramount to maintain optimal health and should be included in a good balance physical activity program. 

 

Building strength is important and can improve one’s quality of life, because as we get older our bodies change, usually in ways we do not like. Normal changes include 

 

  • Slower metabolism
  • Reduced strength and muscle mass 
  • Increased body fat 
  • Decrease in bone mineral density 
  • Stiffness in the joints   

 

Above are just some of the changes we experience when we age, but they don’t have to debilitate and affect you from living your best life. The most important reason to be physically active or more specifically strength training is to minimize or slow down these changes. 

 

Performing strength training can provide us with incredible health benefits such as preventing bone fracture (by increasing bone density), improving functional movement, increasing muscle mass, better body composition, managing type 2 diabetes, maintaining flexibility and balance, improving posture and enhanced performance of an everyday task. 

 

There is a reason why the WHO has stated that strength training should be performed twice a week alongside 150 minutes of cardiorespiratory training. To start, have a discussion with your doctor to get the green light to know if it is safe to do so if you have any underlying chronic health problems. If not, choose eight to ten exercises that work the major muscle groups of the body, beginning with one set of each exercise with 8-12 repetitions (there should be a degree of difficulty when performing it). If you want a structured program or more education on this, please contact Medicine in Motion to see an Accredited Exercise Physiologist assist you in your health goals.

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