Believe it or not, strength training over 40 becomes more important, not less the older you get.
Not only is it essential for day to day activities, such as getting on and off the toilet, but strength and flexibility are strong indicators of life expectancy, as demonstrated by this study.
In fact, multiple prospective observational studies have demonstrated that one of the strongest predictors for longevity and function as you age is maintaining muscular strength.
What are the benefits of training?
A very common reason for people to require assisted living arrangements is the inability to squat (i.e. getting on and off the toilet).
What this really represents is maintaining your independence as you age, an asset you no doubt hold extremely dearly.
It’s a terrible thing to look yourself in the mirror and admit that you can’t take care of yourself… so invest in your physical and mental health throughout your life to save yourself from health challenges which may end up robbing you of your independence.
Improve Bone Density
The way bones grow from the time you’re a baby until the day you die is by adapting to stress.
Essentially, subjecting bones to mild-moderate stress (i.e. body weight/resistance training) causes them to develop and become harder and denser, particularly in the areas where the most stress is applied.
Obviously bones can only adapt to a certain point (bones break), but one of the leading concerns for people (especially women) over 50 is osteoporosis. To keep your bones strong and healthy, you need to do more than just eat lots of dark green leafy vegetables (for dietary intake of calcium, food sources like kale, spinach and broccoli are way better than dairy – you’ve basically been lied to for the last 50 years…) you need to stress those bones and at the very least commit to a body weight exercise routine.
Slow The Clock
Evidence from the Centers For Disease Control shows that a regular strength training program can have a beneficial effect on several biological markers of aging, including muscle mass, strength, aerobic capacity and blood sugar tolerance.
Think of all the money you spend on ‘superfoods‘ or supplements to give you more energy or add to your antioxidant count, or even worse, on creams and ointments to make you look younger. You could just lift 3 times a week and get more bang for your buck…
Increase Basal Metabolic Rate
A common occurrence as people age is a decrease in metabolic rate.
This means that we tend to process food less efficiently, put on fat tissue more quickly and are less energetic. Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology demonstrates that heavy resistance training INCREASES resting metabolic rate.
Fulfill Your Requirements For Health
The most important reason to incorporate strength training into your workout plan is because its what your genes expect.
Humans are designed for bursts of speed and power, and the more consistently you can fulfill that expectation, the healthier (and stronger) you’ll be.
And please remember that strength training doesn’t have to mean this:
One of the great things about training for strength is that ‘heavy’ is a relative term, and almost everything can be scaled to match your current fitness level.
If you are reading this in your 40’s, and thinking: “hmm, I’ll just start strength training in 20 years and I’ll be good” you’re dead wrong…
The earlier you start building a strength base (i.e. the earlier you start) the better the effect. This study took baseline measurements of strength in men in their mid 50’s and still found it to be a strong indicator of life span (people who were stronger when they were in their 50’s consistently lived longer and had less occurrence of disability.)
To find out how to design an exercise program that includes strength training, the easiest place for you to start is by attending the next Move By Design Seminar.