Strength training for healthy aging
Did you know that your actual and biological age isn't the same thing? This means that you can be younger or older than your biological age, depending on factors such as your nutrition and exercise habits. Many people tend to age faster because they don’t exercise regularly and naturally lead less mobile lives. The good news is that you have the power to change this.
Let’s examine the science
Sarcopenia is a syndrome that’s characterized by progressive and generalized loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. This disorder is mostly found in older populations, but due to the prevalence of sedentary lifestyles, sarcopenia is also on the rise in younger adults. Osteoporosis is a disorder that results in bone density loss and is often diagnosed alongside sarcopenia. Luckily, you can delay (and even reverse) muscle and bone density loss with exercise. It’s all about strength training.
Why strength training is the secret to healthy aging
To age gracefully, it’s important that you take the time to train your body and explore all of its amazing potential. You can start strength training to reap all the benefits no matter your age. The key to proper strength training is to use progressive resistance, such as body weight, resistance bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, and gym weights. What does progressive resistance mean? Simply put, once you have adapted to the weight, volume, and demand of your training, you’ll need to add a new variable, such as more weight, more reps and sets, increased range of motion, and increased demand. You should do this progressively using a program, i.e., starting with 5-pound weights, followed by 7 pounds, and then 10 pounds.
As you age, your strength training program should focus on developing a healthy range of motion, body ownership, a safe yet progressive load pace, and adapting safe modifications to workouts (like using a bench squat instead of squatting). Make sure to avoid jumps and long endurances that put too much strain on your joints and body.
If you don’t use it, you lose it
Remember that if you don’t use and build your muscles regularly, you are at a higher risk of experiencing muscle and bone density loss. This is why you should start incorporating strength training into your exercise routine ASAP.
Dasha L. Anderson is a celebrated trainer and fitness expert in New York City, with a master's degree in exercise science and sports nutrition and a specialty in performance enhancement and injury prevention. She is also the founder and head certifying instructor of Kettlebell Kickboxing and has contributed to Self, Shape, Fitness Rx, and Epoch Times.