Athletic young woman working on biceps with expander

Muscle Matters: Anti-Aging Strength Training

Most people know that cardiovascular exercise is important for overall health and well-being. A strong heart lowers your risk of developing serious cardiovascular diseases, keeps your blood pressure in check, helps you maintain a healthy weight and can even boost your mood and decrease your stress. But did you know that cardiovascular exercises are only part of a healthy exercise / anti-aging plan? Strength training provides many great benefits—and as you get older, these benefits become even greater.

Each year one out of three adults, aged sixty-five years and older, fall which results in 2.5 million people treated in emergency rooms. While there are several reasons why these falls occur, two of the biggest reasons are weakness in the lower body and difficulty with balance. Strength, and even balance exercises, are the best ways to prevent falls from happening providing there are no other risk factors present (i.e., poor vision or an existing medical condition). But, the benefits do not stop there. Increasing your muscle mass, something we like to call “Anti-Aging Strength Training” here at Ageless Medicine of the Palm Beaches, can actually reverse the aging process.

Why Muscle Decreases with Age

Muscles loss is a significant symptom of aging. Typically, these changes start to occur at the age of 40, progressively worsening from there. Research suggests that this muscles loss is caused by oxidative stress (a condition in which antioxidant levels are lower than normal), cell death, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, inactivity, and alterations in protein turnover and mitochondrial disfucntion (Melov et al. 2007). Balancing your hormones, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, boosting antioxidants, and doing cardiovascular exercise is very important to slowing down the aging process. However, resistance training in people 40 and over has been shown to reduce markers of oxidative stress and increase the anti-oxidant enzyme activity. In fact, a recent study has shown that anti-aging strength training actually effects some of the gene expressions associated with muscle aging…..actually reversing the aging process. Read more on this study, here.

When to Start

Of course, the sooner you begin a strength training regimen the better, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start right now no matter what your age. In fact, many gyms and strength programs are designed for individuals of all ages—including older adults who may be performing these exercises for the very first time. Even though they have a reputation for having the toughest workouts in the world, CrossFit often touts their many senior members who engage in heavy weight lifting alongside their much younger counterparts. According to them, there is no age limit for getting stronger. The most important thing to do is to START today!

What Else Will Anti-Aging Strength Training Do For You?

For starters, increased strength means not having everyday functions feel like a major physical challenge. When your lower body and core strength increase, something as simple as getting up from a chair, for example, becomes much easier. You can also walk with greater speed and your balance is much improved. All of this lessens your risk for a fall.

Other benefits to strength training include reducing pain—especially pain associated with osteoarthritis. Strengthening the muscles improves their function and leads to decreased pain when performing simple, daily tasks. This leads to a better quality of life because let’s face it, when your body feels good, there is so much more you can do!

How do you get started?

Fitness woman doing a weight training by lifting a heavy weights barbells, sports lifestyle

There are many ways to start a weight lifting program. The easiest way, although not the cheapest, is to hire a personal trainer who will put you through a series of exercises based on your goals. He or she can keep track of your progress, give you modifications for exercises that may be too difficult to perform and provide you with support and encouragement—not to mention accountability.

If using a personal trainer is too expensive, many gyms and YMCAs have classes that are geared towards building strength by using weighted exercises. These hour-long classes will target both your upper and lower body to give you a full body workout. The nice part is that you are in a group setting where everyone is doing the same thing with the same goal in mind. You get to build strength and camaraderie. A good instructor will also be able to provide you with modifications for specific exercises if you need them.

Other ways to get into a strength training program is to do them at home. Although you may need to buy some weights and/or an easy-to-follow DVD, there are many exercises like squats, push-ups and lunges that you can do without weights and are just as challenging and effective. You can squat while you watch television or perform push-ups during commercial breaks. The Internet is always a valuable resource for finding ideas on the best way to exercise at home.

Make no mistake about it, strength training is a crucial part of an exercise plan. But, we think it helps to think of it as anti-aging strength training. Not only will it make you stronger and help you maintain an active and healthy life, but it can also help to actually reverse the aging process. We think this is perfect motivation to get up and go to the gym!

Schedule an Anti-Aging Consultation Today: 561.406.2269