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Weight Training for Seniors: Staying Strong and Independent

Strength training is the process of working to build muscle mass. For those who are older, that’s a critical step in maintaining your body’s ability to navigate daily challenges. It’s common for muscles to lose a great deal of their strength and mobility as people age. Yet, weight training to build muscle offers some improvement.


Photo by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash


You don’t have to aim to bench press 200 pounds. Rather, focus on smaller steps to build core muscles. Doing so could help you lose some weight, improve stability, and help improve overall endurance, no matter what your goals are for the day. Discover why weight training is crucial for seniors to maintain muscle mass, bone density, and functional independence.


Prevention of Age-Related Muscle Loss

Age-related muscle loss, called sarcopenia, impacts many older people. It’s a condition that impacts the musculoskeletal system and increases how frail and fragile someone may be. A person may experience a loss of stamina, trouble performing daily tasks, poor balance and falls, and difficulty climbing stairs. It’s brought on by reduced physical activity, obesity, chronic health conditions, and changes to hormone levels.


Muscle building, through careful weight training, can offer some reduction of this condition. While eating a healthy diet and engaging in resistant-based strength training can help, weight training allows you to build more mass, allowing your muscles to become stronger and more likely to withstand what you need to do.


Improved Balance and Reduced Risk of Falls

There’s little doubt that seniors are at an increased risk of falling, and it takes just one stumble to lead to countless health issues, long-term hospital stays, and ongoing pain. Adding muscle through weight training could help.


Building muscle mass adds to the core's stability and strength. In doing so, you’re less likely to fall. Weight training can help build muscles in the areas most likely to prevent a tumble. That includes your hips, legs, and core muscles. Over time, those stronger muscles mean you’ll see better confidence while walking and a reduction in your risk of falling. You’re stronger from the core out.


Maintaining Joint Flexibility and Mobility

How about the way your joints feel and move? You may be focused on how stiff you are when you’re trying to get up from a chair, for example. With weight training, you can improve your overall flexibility in multiple ways.


Imagine spending the day in the garden without feeling like your knees are going to hurt for days. With weight training exercises, you improve joint function. You also give your joints more of the power they need to move easily. That could mean you’re back to dancing again or able to climb the stairs without flinching from pain in your knee.

Enhanced Overall Strength and Stamina

Stronger muscles mean more movement, which means you can accomplish more throughout your day. When you build up those muscles, they get larger because there’s more muscle tissue present. The result is a muscle that’s stronger and can handle more of the work you want to do. That’s powerful – literally!


Strength and weight training help your muscles to function properly. With each lifting of a weight, you cause the muscle to tear just a bit. The result is that the muscle has to heal. When it heals, it adds more muscle tissue, growing in size. The more muscle there, the more power you get.


Preservation of Cognitive Function

How can weight training impact your brain health? You may be surprised by this area. When you put in the hard work of strength training, you’re working another muscle, too. That’s your brain. As you do this over time, you’re giving your brain more of the ability to function at its best.


It’s possible that weight training can help with improving cognitive performance, even in those who are in their 80s. The work you do while lifting weights can actually help to activate the prefrontal areas of the brain. That’s where a lot of your cognitive function comes into play.


Consider the alternative. If you’re not working out and building muscle, you’re living a sedentary lifestyle. That’s not going to contribute to mental acuity. Instead, it’s going to limit new stimulation and learning paths in the brain. Ultimately, if you want to keep your cognitive function, you have to put in the work. In this case, a bit of weight training can help.


Takeaway

Seniors can greatly benefit from weight training. It’s one of the best strategies you have for staying physically strong. At the same time, it keeps you active and engaged with the world around you. That means you can do more of the things you want to do. And it may even mean you are more independent. At Activefit+, we support well-being and building stronger bodies. Weight training is one component of that process.


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