Group of older mature people lifting weights in the gym

Benefits of resistance training for seniors

by Meegan Vale

The benefits of resistance training for health and fitness are well known, especially for increasing strength and power.

Often people only think of resistance training as being appropriate for young athletic individuals; however, there are many very important benefits for seniors, with some below that you may not know about.

What is resistance training?

Resistance training (also called strength training or weight training) is based on the principle that muscles of the body will work to overcome a resistance force when they are required to do so. When you do resistance training repeatedly and consistently, your muscles become stronger.

Benefits of resistance training for seniors you may not know about

Strengthens bones    Weight bearing exercise such as resistance training increases bone mineral density, which is very important for elderly people as this can help prevent the decline in bone mass with aging and prevent diseases such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. This means stronger bones and less risk of bone fractures which are often debilitating in the aging population.

Reverses bone loss  As we age, bone loss can be a real issue. Though conditions like osteoporosis and calcium deficiency are commonly associated with women, it’s a problem that people of both sexes experience and gets worse as we age. The good news is, researchers from recent studies discovered activities including resistance training can reverse bone loss by facilitating cellular growth.

Prevents loss of muscle mass   As we get older, we experience a decline in muscle mass known as sarcopenia. This often results in significant declines in strength and function with increasing age. However, it has been shown that regular resistance training can help slow and even partly reverse sarcopenia in elderly populations, meaning improved strength and function to perform daily tasks such as getting in and out of a chair.

Enhances brain function  Have you ever had a workout and come out on the other end feeling a bit euphoric or with a clearer head? Well, there’s science to back up what you’re experiencing, and it suggests you can improve your brain function through simple exercise. This holds especially true for older folks.

Less trips to the toilet  Another affliction that unfortunately affects many seniors is the need to urinate more frequently. It becomes such a problem that many are constantly awoken at night with the need to go to the toilet. It’s caused by a few different things and is commonly known as nocturia (going to the toilet at night).

The good news is that exercise, including resistance training can help minimise the problem, meaning less trips to the bathroom.

Reduces risk of falls Resistance training should also include exercises to challenge coordination and balance. This includes exercises such as standing on an unstable surface such as foam and performing exercises whilst trying to maintain balance. This sort of training can help to prevent falls by improving balance and coordination, significantly improving functional capacity in elderly people.

Improve quality of life  Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and COPD are common in elderly populations. Regular participation in resistance training has also been shown to have positive effects on health status for people with these conditions, especially in terms of improving quality of life and functional capacity.

Meegan Vale is the owner and head instructor at Total Body Fitness Studio, Erina  Phone: 4365 4656   www.totalbodyfs.com.au

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