Strength Training for Seniors

About a year ago, your writer found that he was having trouble doing the yard work and carrying the trash to the curb. I was getting weaker with age and realized that this trend was only going to go in one direction. So I decided to reverse the decline with strength training. Putting in just three hours a week, I am now stronger than I was thirty years ago.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that just thirty to sixty minutes a week of strength or “resistance” training leads to a ten to twenty percent decrease in heart disease, cancer and mortality. It also increases cognitive function and decreases anxiety and depression. Better yet, you can carry in the groceries or climb the stairs without getting exhausted!

Strength training doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym and start lifting heavy weights. Just doing push-ups, planks, squats, walking up stairs, etc. are all forms of resistance training. You don’t even have to change your clothing, so long as you have enough room to move.

Instead of sitting for hours on end watching television, how about simply pulling your shoulders back, straightening your back and then getting up and sitting down for ten or fifteen minutes. Add in some push-ups and planks and you have both upper and lower body work-outs.

Start slow and build up your strength and repetitions. It is amazing how quickly the body responds at any age, even in one’s nineties. As my mother used to say when I was growing up “Go outside and do a muscle a favor!”.

Proper form is essential to avoiding injury and getting the most out of your efforts. A regular personal trainer works wonders. But if that is outside your budget, then consider just a couple of sessions to develop a custom plan that you can continue on your own.

Switching from a sedentary lifestyle to a workout schedule including aerobics, like brisk walking, is “comparable to smoking v. not smoking” according to the British Journal.

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