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Age-defying strength: 7 benefits of strength training for older adults

As you age, maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle becomes increasingly important. Ageing doesn’t have to mean slowing down – instead, it can bring strength, resilience, and a vibrant quality that defies the conventional expectations of growing older. One often overlooked but highly effective way to remain healthy and resilient is through strength training. Lifting weights and building strength offers many benefits for older adults, contributing to enhanced well-being and a more robust quality of life.

1. Reduces risk of falls and injury

One of the primary concerns for older adults is the risk of falls, which can have severe consequences on both physical and mental health. Strength training plays a pivotal role in reducing this risk by improving balance and stability. Several studies have found that older adults engaged in strength training experience a significant decrease in falls compared to their non-exercising counterparts.1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360922/2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9883964/ A stronger body is more resilient and at a reduced risk of injuries.

2. Improves bone density

Osteoporosis, a condition characterised by weakened bones, is a common concern with ageing. Performing weight-bearing exercises enhances bone density and reduces the risk of fractures. This is particularly significant for postmenopausal women, who are more susceptible to bone-related issues. Resistance training appears to be an ideal method for improving muscle strength among the elderly and safeguarding muscle mass against sarcopenia.3https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35378297/ Don’t wait to make this a priority – every age is a good age to improve your bone development and strength!

3. Enhances mobility and flexibility

One of the key factors in maintaining an active lifestyle is preserving mobility and flexibility. If you have weaker muscles, you likely have a reduced range of motion and less flexibility.4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5609666/ You may be surprised to hear, that strength training can make you more flexible. Regular strength training strengthens the muscles around the joints, providing better support and stability. It also increases joint range of motion which allows for more mobility and greater flexibility. These improvements result in a reduced risk of injury and better overall mobility. This is particularly beneficial for older adults, allowing them to perform daily activities with ease and reducing the risk of developing mobility-related issues.

4. Improves heart health

Beyond the visible benefits, strength training has the amazing capacity to improve your cardiovascular health. Regular strength training can lead to improved blood circulation, lowered blood pressure, reduced levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and enhanced overall heart function. Several of the benefits that strength training offers also contribute to a reduced risk of heart disease!5https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness/benefits-of-strength-training As we age, maintaining cardiovascular health becomes increasingly vital, and strength training offers a holistic approach to achieving this.

5. Boosts self-esteem

The psychological benefits of strength training are equally noteworthy. Regular strength training can boost your mood and have a positive impact on your mental health. Exercise causes the release of happy hormones leaving you feeling boosted compared to before your workout. Older adults often report increased confidence and a positive self-image as they see and feel the improvements in their physical abilities. Engaging in strength training fosters a sense of accomplishment, contributing to a healthier mental outlook. Strength training is an effective way of reducing stress and anxiety too.6https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28819746/7https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25322262/ As they say, the only workout you regret is the one you didn’t do!

6. Benefits brain health

The advantages of strength training extend beyond the physical realm to cognitive well-being. Research has shown that regular strength training can enhance cognitive function, including improved focus, memory, and a reduced risk of cognitive decline. There is a growing body of evidence indicating a connection between muscular strength and cognitive function in older adults.8https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9877502/#:~:text=In%20addition%2C%20resistance%20training%20exhibits,adults%20%5B20%2C%2021%5D. As you age, preserving brain health becomes increasingly important, and strength training offers a proactive approach.

7. Better quality of life

The benefits of strength training for older adults are multi-faceted. From reducing the risk of falls to enhancing heart health, mobility, and self-esteem, the positive impacts are undeniable. Incorporating strength training into the routine of older adults is a proactive step towards ensuring a better quality of life in the golden years. Remember, age is no barrier to the transformative effects of strength training!

Before starting any new exercise regimen, it is advisable to consult with your General Practitioner to ensure it aligns with your health status. Considering the guidance of a Personal Trainer can be beneficial to establish proper form and minimise the risk of injury.

Check out our articles Osteoporosis: how magnesium can help! and 5 ways to love your brain!

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