When you think about lifting weights, you might think about big strong muscles, or being uncomfortable, and say “no thanks.” But strength training can do a lot more than build muscle mass and strength (two things that are very important with older age).
And the pain and discomfort go away when you exercise regularly.
Strong muscles lead to strong bones, better balance, greater independence, and more. The benefits to bone health alone are enough to convince many why now might be the time to start a strength-training regimen.
As bones become more fragile with age, they can be susceptible to a break, even after a minor fall or much less obvious stress, like simply bending over. Depending on the placement and severity of a break, it can have life-altering impacts.
Muscle can help prevent these situations from occurring. Several studies show that strength training can slow bone density loss and even stimulate the formation of new bone. This can help offset age-related drops in bone mass.
Activity that puts stress on bones – like the pushing or pulling that happens during resistance exercise – can prompt bone-forming cells to get moving, too, ultimately leading to stronger and denser bone.
Muscle also helps to improve balance and resilience, helping to increase agility. For example, if you walk into a table and lose balance, muscles will help you absorb the blow and potentially steady yourself to prevent a fall.
Strength training moves target bones in the hips, spine, and wrists, which are the areas you’re most likely to experience a life-altering fracture. Movements that incorporate squatting, deadlifting, and upper body pushing and pulling, like push-ups or rows, are ideal.
If you don’t know anything about strength training, or even if you know a little, it is worthwhile to meet with a professional. They can show you how to safely perform movements and program exercises in a low-risk, incremental way that is tailored to you.