. Muscle strength for seniors is important because a natural decline occurs as we age
. We need to replenish what we are losing
. Those who engage often report feeling happier and more outgoing
As we get older our muscles, joints and tendons naturally lose strength, flexibility and function. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. To counteract that it’s important for seniors to do their own muscle strength training to replenish what they are losing. We can’t go back in time but we can certainly slow the decline. If you commit a certain amount of time each week to strengthening your muscles, tendons and joints you will continue to be physically productive.
This study outlines how the ageing process can be attributed to ‘a number of physiologic and functional declines that can contribute to increased disability, frailty, and falls’ through a reduction of muscle strength. The study suggests that strength training is an excellent way of combating the natural deterioration of the body. ‘Done regularly (e.g., 2 to 3 days per week), these exercises build muscle strength and muscle mass and preserve bone density.’
Osteoporosis is a common ailment that arises as we get older and there is evidence to suggest that strength training helps to neutralise the effects of this condition. This is because one of the goals is to improve bone strength by challenging the body to respond and get stronger. As this study states ‘Of the several exercise training programs, resistance exercise (RE) is known to be highly beneficial for the preservation of bone and muscle mass.’
It goes on to say that ‘Exercise training, especially RE, is important for the maintenance of musculoskeletal health in an aging society’ and that ‘Based on the available information, RE, either alone or in combination with other interventions, may be the most optimal strategy to improve the muscle and bone mass in postmenopausal women, middle-aged men, or even the older population.’
Psychological benefits of building muscle strength
While the majority of health benefits are physical there is also evidence emerging that there are definite psychological benefits that are a direct by-product. Seniors who engage in this type of strength and resistance work often report feeling happier, more confident and outgoing. A chemical reaction is unlocked as well as being a natural boost to your self-esteem when you successfully challenge yourself.
This study suggests that ‘Resistance training improved exercise-related motivational and volitional characteristics in older adults. These improvements were linked to continuing resistance training 1 year after the supervised intervention.’ Greater motivation and positive reinforcement are certainly some of the psychological benefits that can come with strength and resistance training.
Structuring your program
So that’s an overview of why it’s important to build muscle strength as we age. The final point we will touch on is how best to structure your program. The first thing to consider is frequency. Two to three times per week with eight to ten repetitions for each exercise is a good starting point. You can ease yourself into your work and it’s not too time consuming. As a result, your body will naturally adapt.
Once you are confident you can either add repetitions or frequency but still be mindful of not overloading your body. You want to try and achieve a balanced fitness program and one that is sustainable over the long run. Muscles also need time to grow and relax in between so it’s important to put some distance between your workouts. Stay dehydrated, keep a safe work area and develop your strength training slowly and steadily.