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Four reasons to strength train as you age

When people think of exercise, the first thing that comes to mind is walking which is often associated with better health and longevity; recent research also evaluates the benefits of strength training other than just improving muscle mass.

To maximise your fitness program, strength training should be an equally important partner to aerobic training. This partnership will help these two routines benefit one another, resulting in a more balanced approach to fitness with enhanced results.

Here are four reasons you should incorporate strength training into your fitness plan.

1. Maintain Muscle Mass and Strength as You Age

As we reach our mid- to late-20s, we slowly lose muscle mass. Most research shows that this rate of muscle loss increases significantly when we enter our 60s. While strength training doesn’t stop muscle loss as we age, it goes a long way in slowing it down. Not only will strength training help to maintain muscle mass as we age, but it will also enhance the rest of your fitness routine, especially the cardio component. Stronger muscles equal more vigorous cycling, swimming or running, along with better performance in any activities you do.

2. It Doesn’t Have to Take a Lot of Time

Strength training can be done in a relatively short period per session, providing significant benefits. Studies show that only two days per week for 15 to 20 minutes can provide enough muscle stimulation to improve strength and balance in adult men and women. These results don’t require lifting heavy loads that increase the risk of injury or overuse. You can feel the benefits with only six to ten exercises per session.

3. Reduced Rate of Injuries and Fatigue

Our joints are crucial as our bones and muscles support and move us. Our joints can become weak, stiff and sore as we age unless we include physical activity. Weak joints are more vulnerable to injury from falls, twists, or even picking up groceries. Muscular weakness is also linked with deficiencies in balance that can lead to fall-related injuries. Strength training would provide significant protection by improving balance and movement to support your body if you fall, twist or strain a joint. Strength enhancement will help your endurance in daily activities, whether doing the lawn, painting the house, or working in the garden.

4. Counteract the Effects of Weight Loss

To lose weight, we need to create a calorie deficit by burning calories with exercises, eating fewer calories, or preferably doing both. As a person loses weight, we often lose muscle mass. Our body tends to lose or gain, and it can be challenging to do both. Since it is vital to maintain muscle mass as we age, we need to balance weight loss, especially losing significant amounts of weight quickly; with strength training, you can maintain muscle mass and keep strong.

Remember that healthy nutrition and quality sleep are crucial to strength training. Healthy food and sleep aid the body in the recovery and growth of muscle tissue, so the better your nutrition and rest, the better your results from strength training.

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