Muscle mass begins to decline after thirty and most of us, lose 30% of our muscles during a lifetime.
Engaging in strength training or resistance training will help preserve muscle mass. Skeletal muscles are made up of individual muscle fibres. And like muscles themselves, not all muscle fibres are the same. There are two types of skeletal muscle fibres, fast-twitch, and slow-twitch. The fast ones, responsible for generating power and strength shrink twice as fast as the slow-twitch. And maintaining the fast-twitch muscle fibres is very important.
We need them for our daily activities like getting up from a chair or to regain our balance quickly as we grow old. So you must do enough strength training to keep your muscle toned and ability to react quickly as you age.
Running, cycling and other forms of cardio are good exercises but for holistic health and life-long fitness, you need to incorporate some form of strength training, in your routine. We see so many people in their seventies and eighties experiencing difficulty in walking or even getting out of bed. That’s because they have lost muscle and strength.
Building lean muscles helps to increase metabolism which in turn, helps you to shed fat fast. No matter what your body type is, acquiring more muscle is the foundation of an ageless body that performs as well as it looks. A muscular base serves as the first block from which you build everything else. Especially as we age. Adding muscles will positively influence your quality of life.
Understand how muscle fibres work:
As you perform a physical task, muscle fibres are broken down, which is why you feel sore afterward. Your body self-repairs. Giving it proper nutrition, your body will add more muscle fibres. As you keep giving your muscles more strain, they continue to fortify themselves. They gain in strength.
Strength training helps increase bone density
An increase in bone density will prevent osteoporosis and reduce back pain. More energy is required to maintain muscle than fat. Your resting metabolic rate will increase reducing obesity and help in faster weight loss. Your quality of life will improve tremendously in your old age with regular resistance training. There are studies that show, that it can reduce insulin resistance and body fat as well as improve glucose and blood pressure. This will keep you away from heart diseases, diabetes, and cancer.
There are various ways to start resistance training – Bodyweight, Free weights like dumbbells or barbells, Machines, Suspension trainers like TRX, and Resistance bands. Whatever you start with, start slow. Don’t hit the gym and start lifting heavy. You will feel horrible and start avoiding the gym in the future. Increase effort gradually.
Why Lifting Weights Can Be So Potent for Aging Well
Weight training by older people will build not only strength and muscle mass, but also increase motivation and confidence. A study conducted recently shows the emotional impact of resistance training. There are hundreds of studies that show strength training can help us age well. It helps you live a life of agility and non-dependence. Older people who lift weights can slow or reverse their descent. Older people who start to lift weights typically gain muscle mass and strength as well as better mobility, mental sharpness, and metabolic health.
No matter how old or athletically challenged you are, you can change your body shape, your weight, your energy level by adding muscle to your body. Your overall quality of life will improve tremendously. A recent study was done by Mayo Clinic in Rochester on people aged 64 and above shows that the cellular health of muscles associated with aging was corrected with intense exercises. In fact, in older people, the cells responded more than the cells of younger people.
So it’s never too late to start and benefit from strength training. In one of the future blogs, I will write about the best exercises for seniors.
To delay death, to live with confidence, to not be dependent, for better mental health, and to look toned and robust, go lift. Lift Heavy. Just make sure you have a good trainer. This is about you. Listen to your body. Train, don’t strain.