You’re Just Never Too Old to Lift Weights

I often get potential clients questioning whether resistance training might be appropriate for folks
getting up in years.  The answer is a resounding YES!  Not only appropriate, but almost a MUST.

Below I have attached studies — and there are hundreds, that show the benefits resistance training  has to offer those of us that are getting up in age.  Those benefits include
  • improved cardiorespiratory endurance
  • improved bone mineral density
  • post-exercise hypotension (lowers blood pressure)
  • gains in strength
  • gains in muscle mass (can reverse sarcopenia, age-related muscle loss)
The oldest newbie I have trained was a gentleman who started when he was 81 years old because he was going to have knee replacement surgery and his doctor told him he needed to strengthen his quadriceps.
He had a very strong will, and he did very well on the program.  We started out slow — baby steps — he did have a bum knee, after all, and twice a week.  But after a few months, he was training once a week hard, just like everyone else.
As so many of my stories go, I don’t know what happened to him after the K word – just lost touch.
A few years ago, I tried to force training on my 92 year old father. He was beginning to lose his balance, and also because he had for years been unable to get out of a chair without wincing.  I think that amounted to two sessions, but he really hated it.  He told me he was just too old, and he wasn’t interested anyway!  A 92 year old will tell you like it is!
Really, the only reason I wrote that last paragraph is so I could show my favorite picture of him when he visited my gym shortly before he passed away.
Anyway, here are a few of the gems I’ve had in my gem box for a while regarding resistance training and the elderly. There are so many more.  If you have any questions about the benefits of strength training, and specifically high intensity training, please feel free to email me here.  If I don’t know, I’ll find out.

Improved cardiorespiratory endurance following 6 months of resistance exercise in elderly men and women.

CONCLUSIONS: Significant improvements in aerobic capacity and treadmill time to exhaustion can be obtained in older adults as a consequence of either high- or low-intensity resistance exercise. These findings suggest that increased strength, as a consequence of resistance exercise training, may allow older adults to reach and/or improve their aerobic capacity.”

Resistance exercise and bone turnover in elderly men and women.

CONCLUSION: These data indicate high-intensity REX [resistance exercise] training was successful for improving BMD [bone mineral density] of the femoral neck in healthy elderly subjects. Also, these data suggest REX increased bone turnover, which over time may lead to further changes in BMD.”

High-intensity exercise promotes postexercise hypotension greater than moderate intensity in elderly hypertensive individuals.

“CONCLUSION: High-intensity resistance exercise was effective in promoting PEH [post-exercise hypotension], this phenomenon being accompanied by a reduction in FVR [forearm vascular resistance] within the first minute of recovery in the hypertensive elderly.”

High-intensity strength training in nonagenarians. Effects on skeletal muscle.

“We conclude that high-resistance weight training leads to significant gains in muscle strength, size, and functional mobility among frail residents of nursing homes up to 96 years of age.”
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