Thursday, September 22, 2011

Why it's important to Strength train and exercise as we age.

During a fitness class I talked about the Importance of Resistance Training as we are aging and how important it is to continue to exercise, eat right, take time for meditation and stretching.

Strength training is the only type of exercise that can maintain muscle and metabolism as we age, and should be an essential component of every senior fitness program.

Men and women who do not perform regular resistance exercise experience a decrease in muscle mass throughout the aging process. Research indicates that inactive adults lose about one-half pound of muscle per year during their 30's and 40's.  The rate of muscle loss may double to one-pound per year in people past 50 years of age. Unfortunately, the higher rate of fat gain masks the muscle loss. Adults typically lose about 5 pounds of muscle and add about 15 pounds of fat each decade during the midlife years.

Based on bodyweight the average adult changes approximately 10 pounds per decade, but based on body composition the average adult changes approximately 20 pounds per decade (5 pounds less muscle and 15 pounds more fat).  A woman in her 50's may have 15 pounds less muscle and 45 pounds more fat than she had in her 20's.  This represents an unhealthy 60-pound change in her body composition, which increases her risk for a variety of devastating degenerative problems such as cardiovascular disease, many types of cancer, type II diabetes, and low back pain.

While the focus is typically on fat loss, more emphasis should be placed on muscle gain.  On average, previously sedentary seniors can replace approximately 3 pounds of muscle after about 3 months of regular resistance exercise.  So I’m going to encourage you to start now to strength train 3 days per week!  Not sure where to start?  Check a fitness facility near your home to see if they offer senior classes. If you can,  Hire a personal trainer who is over 30. has some great strength training videos for seniors  watch this 4 minute video to learn more.

Our life expectancy is longer in this day and age.  50 is the new 30, and while you may be eligible for some senior citizen discounts, you don't have to think of this stage of your life as the beginning of the end.  At 58, I feel better than I did in my 30’s.  I eat healthier and work out harder.

There are still more adventures to be had and obstacles to overcome as well as events to attend in your grandchildren's lives. Your age may get older, but you need to keep your body young, so you can live longer and be there for your family.

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