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Older Adults Benefit From Strength Training

Posted: August 18, 2012

As we age, we lose strength and muscle mass. This can affect our daily functioning such as climbing stairs, doing housework, or lifting groceries.

It can also increase our risk of disability, falls and diseases such as osteoporosis and diabetes.

Research has shown that we can maintain and build strength by regularly performing exercises which build muscle mass. This does not mean we have to become body builders and work out at the gym every day. Rather by performing some simple exercises using low levels of free and ankle weights with small but consistent increases in the amount of weight being lifted over time, we can improve our strength.

According to Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, the documented benefits of strength training are immense and include increased muscle and bone mass, muscle strength, flexibility, dynamic balance, self-confidence and self-esteem. Strength training also helps reduce the symptoms of various chronic diseases such as arthritis, depression, type-2 diabetes, osteoporosis, sleep disorders and heart disease. In addition, research demonstrates that strength training in older adults with functional limitations helps reduce the incidence of falls.

Age does not seem to limit people's ability to get stronger when they do strength training. Studies show that older adults can safely get stronger, even in a short time. This is true if the person is an athlete or a frail 95-year old.

If you’re not physically active now and would like to begin strength training, plan to join a “Growing Stronger” program. It will help you make daily activity a regular part of your life by building the essential strength that makes all movement easier and more enjoyable.

“Growing Stronger” is designed for older adults and includes one hour of strength training exercises twice a week along with some nutritional information. For more information about the program, contact Nicole DeMarco at 570-963-6842 or nmd5140@ag.psu.edu.