3 REASON STRENGTH TRAINING IS IMPORTANT FOR HEALTHY AGING
Often as we age, society has a tendency to lower the expectations on us to workout and stay healthy. Older adults are often misguided and advised to use only walking or gardening as their mode of exercise. Although these exercises are good, it does not come close to meeting the needs to keep the aging body healthy and independent. Read below to understand why strength training is essential for the aging person.
1. Life Expectancy – For a long time researchers have tried to understand what the best predictors are of how long a person will live. Initially, research pointed to cardiovascular health and endurance as the primary indicators. More recently though, researchers have looked at the correlation between strength indicators, such as relative leg strength and grip strength, and found that it was just as strong, if not stronger, of a predictor of how long an individual will live. To understand this, read the next two reasons.
2. Power – At a certain point with age, our fitness level begins to decline, regardless of who you are. This decline is certain, but with regular training can be slowed down significantly. The component of fitness that is most influenced by age is your ability to produce force quickly, aka power. This is due to fast twitch muscle fibers being lost to age at a faster rate than slow twitch muscle fibers. Just like other aspects of fitness, this rate of loss can be slowed down. The most effective way to slow down this loss is through regular strength training, which targets fast twitch muscle fibers.
3. Independence – The relationship between power and life expectancy has to do with your ability to perform functional activities independently. Power is often thought of with regards to sports, but daily tasks such as getting up out of a chair, going up stairs, getting off the ground, etc. are also power movements. As we age, these power-demanding tasks of life become more challenging and ultimately determine if we stay healthy and independent. Cardiovascular health is directly impacted by power as we age. If we have difficulty getting from a deep seated sofa, we are less likely to get up and go for a walk. If we have difficulty going up a few stairs we are likely to take the elevator or escalator instead of taking the stairs. With regards to independence, power determine if we can safely get up off the toilet by ourselves, or maneuver the stairs to get into and out of our houses.
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