Reasons to Lift Weights if You're Over 50

Older woman exercising with free weights outdoors
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When you're young, you may not spend much time thinking about how your body will function as you get into your 50s, 60s, and above.

Or perhaps you're like my mother, who will be forever 37 years old...which makes me forever 14. Either way, the single most important factor in how you function when you get older is how strong you are.

We know that lifting weights throughout your life can keep you strong, but what about if you're already an older adult?

Can you make a difference or is there a point when you're too old to build strength and muscle.

One study, published in The American Journal of Medicine says you can. In the study, researchers examined several studies to find out if lifting weights is actually valuable for adults over 50. They found that, over 18-20 weeks, older adults gained an average of 2.42 pounds of muscle and increased their strength by 25-30%.

Considering that the average adult can gain about 1.5 to 5 pounds of lean muscle each month, that's pretty impressive.

Here are more great reasons to lift weights.

1. It Makes You Live Longer

The researchers followed the respondents for 15 years through death certificate data from the National Center for Health Statistics National Death Index. About a third of respondents had died by 2011.

Older adults who strength trained at least twice a week had 46 percent lower odds of death for any reason than those who did not.

2. It Improves Your Brain

Resistance training may prevent cognitive decline among seniors via mechanisms involving insulin-like growth factor I and homocysteine. A side benefit of resistance training, albeit a very important one, is its established role in reducing morbidity among seniors. Resistance training specifically moderates the development of sarcopenia.

The multifactorial deleterious sequelae of sarcopenia include increased falls and fracture risk as well as physical disability. Thus, clinicians should consider encouraging their clients to undertake both aerobic-based exercise training and resistance training not only for “physical health” but also because of the almost certain benefits for “brain health”.

3. It Improves Your Vitality

It can combat weakness and frailty and their debilitating consequences. Done regularly (e.g., 2 to 3 days per week), these exercises build muscle strength and muscle mass and preserve bone density, independence, and vitality with age. In addition, strength training also has the ability to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and the signs and symptoms of numerous chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes, while also improving sleep and reducing depression.

Over the past decade, researchers have begun to demonstrate benefits of strength training on strength, muscle mass and physical function, as well as improvements in chronic conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, low back pain and obesity.

Small studies have observed that greater amounts of muscle strength are associated with lower risks of death.

If you've never strength trained, it can be tough to get started, but knowing what lies ahead - more strength, more muscle and a better quality of life - may add a little more motivation to the mix:

Source

Peterson MD, Gordon PM. Resistance Exercise for the Aging Adult: Clinical Implications and Prescription Guidelines. Am J Med. 2011 Mar;124(3):194-8.

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