You might not think that muscle-building is important as the years go on, but you would be very wrong. In fact, it’s probably more important than ever that you build muscle in your older years. This is because new research suggests that those who regularly exercise, specifically with strength-based exercises, have a 23 percent lower risk of premature death and reduce cancer mortality rate.
Sports physician Dr. Jordan Metzl explained, “The message here is intense bouts of exercise in a short period of time are really effective to do. People in their 20s and 30s think about this. People in their 70s and 80s don’t. We really want people to think about doing this across their entire lifespan. It really helps.”
Metzl recommends that seniors looking to begin strength-training lift between three to 15 pounds. Anything greater isn’t necessary because the goal isn’t to bulk up but to build and maintain strength. For optimal results, he suggests incorporating strength-training exercises two to three times a week.
“We think of strength training as kind of building the muscle around the skeleton and that allows you to do other things you like to do,” he said. “We have people eight to 85 doing strength training.”
Metzl also stresses that just because you are incorporating strength training into your routine, you shouldn’t give up cardio exercises as they are still equally important.
“You’re doing intensity and cardiovascular work with strength training at the same time,” he said. “With cardio alone, you don’t build that functional muscle strength around your skeleton. So, if you have arthritic knees, achy back or whatever, the stronger you make your muscles, the more able you are to do everything else.”
Therefore, for optimal health, you should have a combination of strength-based exercises along with cardiovascular exercises.