Are you over 50 and considering hitting the gym to lift a few weights? If so, good for you! It’s never too late to start regardless of your age. It’s actually very beneficial if you do. There are many physical health benefits if you start resistance training or weight training, and there are mental health benefits too. For one, if you join a gym, you’ll have the opportunity to socialize!
Advantages of Training with Resistance or Weights
Here are just a few of the advantages of exercising with weights, or even your own body weight.
Improves ligament flexibility, muscle strength, and muscle mass.
Your muscles and ligaments are made up of different proteins. The predominant one is collagen, which provides structure and strength. There is also elastin which allows your muscles to snap back into shape after being stretched (for ligaments) or contracted (for muscles).
By using weights or resistance techniques, you work your tissues against a force which gradually makes them stronger. The ligaments extend to their full length, which helps increase your range in motion. The flexibility gained in your joints improves your balance, which helps against falls and improves your mobility. The last thing you want as you age is to lose your ability to move freely.
Regular resistance training makes your muscles contract to increase strength and muscle mass. If you have strong muscles, instead of atrophied, weak muscles, your skeleton can stand strong, which means improved bone and joint health.
Remember that muscle strength is more important than muscle mass, so focus on the intensity and progression of your exercising. When you increase the repetitions and the amount of weight, you will be increasing the demand on your muscles. This helps gain strength, size, endurance, and increase muscle functionality.
Another benefit is that if you are eating a healthy diet, your body will begin to burn stored body fat for energy as you work out. Therefore, you will lose fat in the process and become a lean machine!
It is recommended that you do weight resistance exercises at least twice a week if you’re a beginner in order to achieve maximum benefits. Since you have likely lost muscle mass as you have aged, because of reduced physical activity, you will need to work hard to regain it.
Resistance training slows or reverses the process of aging. It can slow or even stop the decline in muscle mass, bone density, and strength. That statement alone is worth getting started right now!
Manage blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol levels.
Studies show that when your body mass index or BMI – the indicator of body fat – increases, there’s a corresponding increase in your blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure levels are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Another problem with an increase in weight and age is that you may develop higher triglyceride, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. They increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney problems. If you have any of these conditions or are extremely unfit or overweight, consult your doctor before undergoing resistance training.
However! You can benefit from weight training if you have these conditions.
Both moderate-intensity dynamic resistance training and low-intensity isometric resistance training induce a significant decrease in blood pressure levels. Plus, there are favorable effects, in the reduction of triglyceride levels. Training can also prevent and control type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity, which leads to lower blood sugar levels.
Good for your cognitive functions and awareness.
Cognitive decline is a major health concern among seniors, specifically dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If you lead an active life throughout your youth and senior years, you may prevent these degenerative diseases, improve your memory, enhance your thinking skills, and stimulate your brain cells to grow. Your mind will stay alert and healthy.
If you couple your resistance training with aerobic exercises such as swimming, jogging or walking, it can increase the size of your hippocampus which is responsible for learning and verbal memory.
Help reduce pain and stress.
Resistance training is helpful if you have arthritis or spinal osteoporosis, so don’t go thinking you can’t do weights! It increases bone density and improves the muscles surrounding the afflicted area. This helps reduce pain and maintain your coordination and agility. After a while, you may find yourself climbing the stairs with ease, whereas once it was painful and almost a non-event.
Another benefit after exercise is you may notice you feel good. You may notice you are in a better mood and have a happier disposition. When you do resistance training, your brain releases endorphins. These hormones have an analgesic effect, minimizing discomfort during your workout, so you feel good. Plus, one of the hormones, dopamine, is your ‘happy hormone’ so you feel more upbeat.
Therefore, you relieve stress and pain, which is good not only for your body but for your mind as well. Weight training or resistance training has so many benefits as you age. What a great way to maintain your youthful body and general well-being.