Strength Training Over 50

by Sheila Kalas, master trainer and owner of Fitness Plus

Sheila Kalas, master trainer and owner of Fitness Plus in Lexington, Kentucky

Keeping your muscle mass is so important, and strength training should be a component of your workout routine. In the mid-’80s, scientists discovered that losing muscle mass as we age is NOT a normal part of the aging process, but is an avoidable and reversible condition called “sarcopenia” or the age-related loss of muscle mass.

Before this condition was identified in 1986, science thought that starting at about age 35, everyone would begin to lose muscle mass and that the loss of muscle tissue would accelerate as we continued to age. At that time, this is what did happen to most people. This loss of muscle leads you down a pretty clear and unattractive path of the aging process.

Loss of muscle mass leads to:
1. Lower metabolism which causes weight gain (muscle burns calories; lost muscle means you burn less calories)
2. Loss of function and mobility (less muscle means your body can do less work)
3. Loss of independence (too much weight or too little mobility and function will leave you unable to take care of yourself)

Science has shown, without a doubt, that strength training can stop and even reverse the effects of sarcopenia. Increased strength through proper resistance training does not just mean you get stronger; it means you develop more muscle power too.

Muscle power is the ability of your muscles to produce force quickly. It is muscle power that can help you avoid falls by your muscles quickly reacting to a stumble, keeping you from falling to the ground.

Muscle power also helps you do daily tasks better, like getting out of a chair or a car. Don’t confuse raw strength with muscle power. Many people, especially men, are strong; they can lift an object. But that does not mean you have muscle power; this comes from proper strength training.

The value of strength training in avoiding or reversing sarcopenia is just one of the important benefits it gives you. Keeping your bone health and density is another.

Cardiovascular exercise is important; yoga and Pilates, dance classes, etc., are all wonderful activities to participate in, but they are not a substitute for strength training.

It does not take much to make a difference in the health of your bones and to help you keep the muscle you have: a couple times a week is plenty, as long as you focus on your big muscle groups (legs, back and chest). Lifting weights is one of your best defenses against the loss of your independence and mobility as you age. For your health and quality of life, please put strength training in your workout routine.

 
 

If you are looking for a personal trainer in Lexington and Central Kentucky, check out the bios of our Fitness Plus personal trainers and feel free to reach out to us at Fitness Plus.

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