While aging is inevitable, aging well is not. There are so many factors involved in maintaining good physical and mental health as you age, but one of the most important ones to consider is exercise. Exercise not only keeps you feeling and looking younger, but actually physically slows down the aging process. And while exercise comes in many forms, strength training is where the true anti-aging magic happens.
Cardiovascular exercise like walking, jogging, or biking, is super important for your heart and lung function. But strength training is just as crucial, and after the age of 50, it becomes more important than ever. It may surprise you to learn that we begin to lose muscle mass as young as 30. In fact, according to the MLTJ (Muscle, Ligament and Tendon Journal), the aging process is defined as “changes in muscle mass and strength with decline of muscle strength after the 30th year of life.” Wow! In other words, a decrease in muscle is a huge part of what makes you age; strength training to build and maintain muscle is going to slow down that process.
Benefits of Strength Training After 50
In addition to slowing down the overall aging process, strength training after 50 offers several amazing benefits you won’t want to miss out on. According to Tufts University, strength training will reduce the risks and symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, back pain, and depression. Amazing, right? And this is simply a list of things strength training can help avoid. Beyond that, there is so much strength training actually does to keep our bodies healthy as we age.
1. Builds Muscle Mass
Not to bulk up or become a body builder, but to be stronger, look leaner and tighter, and be able to stay independent and strong for life’s daily activities such as carrying groceries, lifting grandchildren, pushing a lawn mower or engaging in fun things like golf or other sports.
2. Builds Bone Density
Unexpected falls put countless older people in the hospital every year. If you break your arm playing high school football, you’re still likely to return to the field in about 8 weeks. It doesn’t work that way for an 80-year-old. The ramifications of broken bones can be devastating. Strength training helps.
3. Decreases Body Fat
Too much body fat isn’t good for you at any age. Not only is it harder to move and carry that extra weight, but maintaining a healthy weight is important when it comes to preventing many of the diseases listed above that come with aging.
3. Help Avoid Injuries
Injuries seem to come with more frequency as we age. Weight training strengthens both muscles and connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments for fewer injuries and more living!
4. Speeds Up Your Metabolism
Most people will testify that their metabolism has slowed down with age. You just can’t eat the same things in the same volume as you ate during your 20’s or 30’s. This circles back to the idea that you have lost some of your muscle.The muscle you put on your body is an active tissue, burning calories all day, while fat is just dead weight. So the math is easy: more muscle = higher metabolism.
5. Improves Mental Health
Depression rises with age. Lack of self-confidence tends to tag along as well. Strength training has been shown to improve your confidence and Harvard Medical School reports that exercise helps lessen the incidence and the degree of clinical depression.
Strength Training Tips Before You Get Started
For just 20-30 minutes a day, just a few days a week, you can change the way your body ages and the way you feel in that body. So are you ready to give it a try? A couple things before you get started. Weight Training is perfectly safe for those over 50, but make sure you do a few simple things first:
- Check with your doctor before dramatically increasing your exercise regimen or if you have any pre-existing injuries or conditions.
- Make sure your medications are aligned with your exercise program.
- Drink lots of water. If it’s hot, drink more!
- The“No Pain, No Gain” does not apply. If it hurts, stop doing what you’re doing. (Not if it’s hard-if it’s painful!)
- Take plenty of time to warm up. The older you are the more warming up you need.
Now, here are 8 awesome exercises that women over 50 can incorporate into their regular exercise routines. If you don’t have a routine that you use, these moves, on their own, will do the trick! They cover everything from lower body to upper body to core strength and balance training—something you definitely want to keep working on as you age! Get yourself a light pair of dumbbells, perhaps 5-8 pounds.
8 Strength Training Moves Women Over 50 Should Do
Perform 8-12 repetitions of each of the following moves with 30-60 seconds rest in between. If you feel yourself getting stronger, reach for heavier weights. If you are looking for more strength training ideas with a little guidance and whole lot of fun, try GHU TV’s Definitions program!
Learn how to perform bird dog.