Strength And Aging: Should we strength train as we get older?
Is strength training for all ages?
By Dr. Sam Watkins
I can’t tell you how many of my physical therapy patients regularly say something like, “Getting old is the worst!”
Most people believe that getting older means a slow but steady decline in strength and function. So when an elderly person starts to have difficulty getting out of a chair, it’s seen as a normal part of aging. Conversely, though, I regularly work with people who are older and are in the best shape of their lives. They enjoy the benefits of strength training.
So what’s the truth? Can you stay strong and fit even later in life?
Honestly, if you’re older than 30, you’re likely past your physical peak in terms of strength and muscle mass. Changes in muscle strength and mass begin to occur then, but the biggest changes occur after the age of 50. Muscle mass has been shown to decrease at a rate of 2%/year over the age of 50 and muscular strength at a rate of 1.5-5%/year after you reach 50.
How do exercise and strength training combat aging?
It’s no surprise that consistent exercise can combat these age-related changes, but the extent of the impact may be eye-opening! A recent paper from faculty at King’s College in London and the University of Birmingham studied amateur female cyclists and found no difference in muscle mass when comparing the older and younger cyclists.
This study demonstrates that regular exercise throughout your life can greatly slow some of the aging processes but what if you haven’t been active and are older? Is it too late? Absolutely not!
Countless studies have shown that older adults can benefit from strength training. For example, a study from Moev et al. in 2007 found that before resistance training older adults were 59% weaker than younger individuals, but after resistance training, they were only 38% weaker.
Although we are fighting a bit of a battle against time, regular exercise can help us to stay happy, healthy, and independent. Whether you’re looking to get back into exercise after a brief (or not so brief) hiatus, or are already starting to notice daily tasks like taking the stairs and going on your daily walk are getting more difficult, you can still gain lasting benefits from exercise. Getting back into exercise can be daunting and challenging, and your team at MoveMend can make it easier.
At MoveMend, we have physical therapists and personal trainers who can work with you to develop a personalized training program to safely and effectively get you back on the right track and improve your strength, mobility, and balance.
Get stronger with MoveMend
Schedule a PT evaluation if you’re dealing with current pain, discomfort, or mobility challenges and want to feel better. If you’re interested in a customized, effective training plan that is designed to get the best results for you, book a fitness evaluation with one of our certified personal trainers who have the highest certifications in the industry!