05 May Four Ways Resistance Training Makes You Younger
Four Ways Resistance Training Makes You Younger
As we age, our body changes. Everyone knows this; it’s why people spend billions of dollars a year on products that claim to make you younger, sexier, give you more energy. Unfortunately, time inevitably comes for us all. But while certain things can’t be controlled, like greying hair and those lines around our eyes, some aspects of aging are almost entirely avoidable.
Unfortunately, many seniors have completely neglected to incorporate exercise into their lifestyle, even if they used to work out religiously. Retirement comes and people relax because hey, they’ve earned it. But eventually, the lack of meaningful motion causes us to get weaker, our bones become more brittle, and before you know it, we find it difficult to get out of our chair.
The good news is that you can maintain and even improve your quality of life well into old age, as well as reducing the risks for heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and many other lifestyle-related issues, simply by starting a resistance training routine a few days a week. Here are the top four ways weight training can improve your life–even if you think weights are a young person’s game.
1. Slows muscle loss
Many people avoid resistance training because they don’t want to get “huge” and “bulky.” But you don’t need to worry; unless that’s your specific goal, it isn’t going to happen.
For seniors, one huge benefit of resistance training is that it will slow muscular atrophy. You see, after the age of 30, we lose about 5% of our muscle mass every decade. Resistance training will slow that rate significantly.
And really, building up a little muscle isn’t a bad thing. Extra muscle will reduce your risk of injury from lifting objects, make it easier to get out of your chair, and help maintain your posture–all of which are common issues that come with aging.
2. Improves symptoms of diabetes
Did you know that 1 in 4 adults over the age of 65 have type 2 diabetes? That’s a staggeringly high number. There are plenty of reasons why the disease develops, but a majority of those reasons are lifestyle-related.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to the absorb blood glucose properly, leading to high levels of blood sugar. With a regular resistance training routine, you can actually train your body to increase glucose absorption and effectively reverse symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Put simply, the more you work your muscles, the more glucose those muscles will absorb from your bloodstream. As a result, your overall blood sugar will drop and stay low, even on days when you’re not working out. For best results, speak with your doctor, and exercise 3-4 times a week. If you have diabetes, you’ll be shocked by the improvements.
According to the National Council on Aging, an elderly adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 13 seconds. Falling is a real issue for older adults, as it can lead to multiple injuries or even death. Part of the increased risk for falls is due to a loss of balance and coordination, but part of it is that muscle loss mentioned earlier.
With a simple, consistent resistance training routine, you can actually strengthen the muscles that stabilize your core and limbs, making it much easier to avoid falls in the first place. You’ll find it easier to compensate for a loss of balance and have better control of your entire body, which means you’ll feel more sure-footed just walking around the house.
Regular weight training can also reduce the risk of bone fractures, which are common occurrences when older adults fall. This leads me right into my next point.
4. Fights osteoporosis
I’m going to hit you with another statistic, this one from the International Osteoporosis Foundation: over the age of 50, 1 in 3 women will experience an osteoporotic fracture, as will 1 in 5 men over the same age. That’s a startling statistic, and it only makes resistance training all the more important.
Weight-bearing exercise causes minute stress on the bone. This causes the bone to lay down new layers of cells and actually increase in both size and density, making the bone much stronger. For this reason, a regular routine greatly reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis in the first place, as well as decreasing risk of fractures if you already have it.
Aging is a bum deal. No one likes it, but it happens to everyone. What many people don’t realize is that you don’t have to become the caricature of an frail, stooped individual leaning on a cane for support. With simple, small steps, you can drastically improve your quality of everyday life, reduce your risk for chronic disease, and live longer. One of the best of the small steps is to hit the gym and lift some weights. It doesn’t have to be much at first; every little bit helps.
And remember, it isn’t about looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s about the difference between getting through life . . . and actually enjoying it.