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This is why seniors should strength train

Last Modified: March 24, 2023

Sports & Exercise


This post was written by Jim Thurber, exercise specialist, Parkview Seniors Club.

As we age, regular exercise is one of the most important things we can do for our health. It can prevent or delay many of the health problems that seem to come with time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend seniors (those 65 and older) get:

  • At least 150 minutes (30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) of moderate activity such as brisk walking a week.
  • At least 2 days a week of strength training.

While about 50% of American adults meet the physical activity recommendation, only 24% meet the strength training recommendation. For seniors, only 22% of males and 17% of females meet the strength training goal.

Progressive resistance or strength training dates back at least to Ancient Greece where Olympic wrestler Milo trained by carrying a newborn calf on his back every day until it was fully grown. A few sessions a week seems completely manageable compared to this!

Why older adults benefit from strength training

Aging is associated with a decrease in muscle mass and strength, a decline that actually starts in our mid-20s and continues throughout life without regular resistance training. And yet, so many seniors are missing out on all these health benefits by leaving strength out of their routine.

Seniors or older adults who strength train on a regular basis can have better health, a better quality of life and better physical function, including the performance of daily living activities. Just some of the many pros for incorporating strength, backed by research, include:  

  • Stronger muscles, combating loss of strength
  • Stronger bones, combating osteoporosis
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased insulin sensitivity
  • Decreased risk of dementia and improved memory
  • Decreased back and neck pain
  • Increased lifespan
  • Decreased visceral (internal) fat
  • Decreased fall risk and risk for breaking bones
  • Increased heart health
  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved mood and decreased instances of depression

A safe way to start

To help seniors add strength training to their weekly activity regimen safely and effectively, the Parkview Seniors Club offers two exercise classes for members. The “Senior Stay Strong” class meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 1 to 2 p.m. and is free to members. The “Lift Weights with Jim” circuit training class meets Mondays and Fridays from 10 to 10:45 a.m. I bring more than 30 years of experience and expertise instructing seniors in safe fitness to our offerings. For more information about our classes, call 260-373-7209.

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