If there is one thing that every living creature on the planet has in common it is that we all age. Some of the effects of the aging process are very obvious. Gray hairs start popping up. Little lines or wrinkles begin to appear. Aches and pains creep in. While these physical effects are clearly obvious, there are many changes going on that are not noticeable, at first. These changes, over time can bring on many age related chronic conditions and diseases, such as, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, weight gain due to slowing metabolism, back and joint pain, and even depression. The good thing is that there is hope and these things are not inevitable!
We here at Total Body Boot Camp and Performance Center are always “preaching” about the benefits of exercise and strength training, The Centers for Disease Control also agrees. They have posted that a regular, progressive strength training program can help reduce the signs and symptoms of these age related conditions in these ways:
- Arthritis Relief– Tufts University recently completed a strength-training program with older men and women with moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis. The results of this sixteen-week program showed that strength training decreased pain by 43%, increased muscle strength and general physical performance, improved the clinical signs and symptoms of the disease, and decreased disability. The effectiveness of strength training to ease the pain of osteoarthritis was just as potent, if not more potent, as medications. Similar effects of strength training have been seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Strengthening of Bone- Post-menopausal women can lose 1-2% of their bone mass annually. Results from a study conducted at Tufts University, which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1994, showed that strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk for fractures among women aged 50-70.
- Proper Weight Maintenance- Strength training is crucial to weight control, because individuals who have more muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate. Muscle is active tissue that consumes calories while stored fat uses very little energy. Strength training can provide up to a 15% increase in metabolic rate, which is enormously helpful for weight loss and long-term weight control.
- Improved Glucose Control- More than 14 million Americans have type II diabetes—a staggering three-hundred percent increase over the past forty years—and the numbers are steadily climbing. In addition to being at greater risk for heart and renal disease, diabetes is also the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Fortunately, studies now show that lifestyle changes such as strength training have a profound impact on helping older adults manage their diabetes. In a recent study of Hispanic men and women, 16 weeks of strength training produced dramatic improvements in glucose control that are comparable to taking diabetes medication. Additionally, the study volunteers were stronger, gained muscle, lost body fat, had less depression, and felt much more self-confident.
- Healthy State of Mind –Strength training provides similar improvements in depression as anti-depressant medications. Currently, it is not known if this is because people feel better when they are stronger or if strength training produces a helpful biochemical change in the brain. It is most likely a combination of the two. When older adults participate in strength training programs, their self-confidence and self-esteem improve, which has a strong impact on their overall quality of life.
- Sleep Improvement- People who exercise regularly enjoy improved sleep quality. They fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, awaken less often, and sleep longer. As with depression, the sleep benefits obtained as a result of strength training are comparable to treatment with medication but without the side effects or the expense.
- Healthy Heart Tissue- Strength training is important for cardiac health because heart disease risk is lower when the body is leaner. One study found that cardiac patients gained not only strength and flexibility but also aerobic capacity when they did strength training three times a week as part of their rehabilitation program. This and other studies have prompted the American Heart Association to recommend strength training as a way to reduce risk of heart disease and as a therapy for patients in cardiac rehabilitation programs.
It is important to note here that the beginnings of the aging process start early in your 30’s. Right in the middle of the prime of your life- and you don’t even realize it’s happening. No matter what your age, adding strength training into your regular routine of exercise is important, and will undoubtedly add to the quality of your life. If you’re not already taking advantage of our Small Group Personal Training sessions, it is highly recommended that you consider adding them to your training experience. Not only are they fun, you will benefit immensely from the safe, progressive work outs that are tailored to your ability level.