Think you’re too old to hit the weight room? Think again. Studies show that people actually need weight training in their lives even MORE as they get older.
Most people hit peak muscle mass between 30 and 40 years old. After that, sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass, strength, and function, begins. It can happen fast: physically inactive people can lose between 3 and 5 percent of their muscle mass each decade after 30.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to start doing deadlifts. Even a moderate exercise program using your own body weight or light resistance bands can build up bone and muscle and counteracts the weakness and frailty that often comes with aging.
Exercising also will improve your muscular endurance, or your ability to repeat the same movement (Think: climbing the stairs or reaching above your head to put dishes away.)
Benefits of exercise
The health benefits of exercising are many, from increased energy during the day to an easier time falling and staying asleep at night. Here are some of the perks of a regular exercise program.
- Increased strength, flexibility, and range of motion, making you less vulnerable to falls and other injuries
- Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (a condition that can lead to hearing loss)
- Stronger connective tissues, tendons, and ligaments that help hold your body in the upright position
- Reduced chronic pain and the fatigue that comes with it
- Lower resting blood pressure
Tips to get started
Find exercises that match your fitness level.
If you haven’t lifted anything heavier than a jar of pickles in a few years, start slow. Try exercises that use only your body weight. For example, sit in a chair and raise your legs in front of you, or lean against a wall and lower your body slightly into a half squat.
When you feel ready, start using very light weights and work your way up.
Try to exercise consistently, but give yourself time to recuperate. Aim for 2-3 days a week with at least 48 hours in between workouts. If you want to strength train daily, alternate muscle groups. Work your arms on Monday, legs on Tuesday, core on Wednesday, and so on.
Seek professional advice.
Before you begin any new workout routine, it’s important to speak with your physician and get the go-ahead. Then, consider working with a trainer that specializes in weight training for seniors. They can help you find exercises that will help accomplish your specific goals and ensure you use the proper form so you don’t injure yourself.
Staying healthy as we age requires staying in tune with our bodies’ and how everything is working. One thing that’s often overlooked is hearing loss. Take a quick online hearing test and find out if it’s time to make an appointment with an audiologist.