Irresistible Resistance Training
~ By Cate Reade, MS, RD ~
Did you know that strength or resistance training is as effective as aerobic training to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic conditions? Resistance training doesn’t get the attention that aerobic activity like walking does, but it should and here’s why. As we age we lose muscle in a process called sarcopenia. As muscles shrink, the nervous and sensory systems that are essential for coordination and balance wither away too. Weak legs and poor balance result in a higher chance of falling which is public enemy number one!
While we can’t stop sarcopenia and the aging process, we can slow it down by building and maintaining muscle strength with resistance training. Anyone who wants to live long and age well performs resistance training 2-3 times per week. It doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. Working with a highly credentialed personal trainer makes the process safe and simple. Pilot studies show that using the MoveMorª Lower Body Trainer 1-3 times per week for 10 – 20 minutes, results in stronger legs, better balance, ankle flexibility (where all mobility begins!) and potential falls reduction. If preventing falls isn’t enough reason to do resistance training, research demonstrates a solid link between strong legs and a strong mind (1).
Many seniors and older adults are concerned that resistance training will increase blood pressure. This is understandable since it does temporarily increase blood pressure while performing the exercise. This is the body’s natural response to get more blood out to working muscles. The great news is that with consistent training resting blood pressure actually decreases helping to relieve hypertension. This happens because resistance training makes the heart and blood vessels a stronger pump and more efficient delivery system. Choose moderate resistance (weights or elastic tubing), use proper technique and breathe continuously throughout the activity.
Here are a dozen more research-based reasons to add resistance exercise to your life:
- Maintain and gain muscle
- Stay strong
- Boost metabolism
- Lose weight
- Improve insulin sensitivity
- Manage blood sugar levels
- Increase gastrointestinal speed
- Better blood lipid profiles for heart health
- Denser and stronger bones
- Decrease lower back pain
- Arthritic and joint pain reliever
- Builds confidence and relieves depression
Last but not least, resistance training can increase your energy levels and who doesn’t want more energy? Strength training done as part of circuit or interval training has been shown to improve mitochondrial function. “Mito what” you might ask! Mitochondria are the little powerhouses that create energy in each of your trillions of cells. As the years go by, these energy engines can get damaged and don’t work as well. This results in fatigue, lower physical function and a decreased ability to perform daily activities. Incredibly, resistance training can reverse this dysfunction so you can experience the energy production equivalent to a moderately active young adult of about 21 years of age(2). How’s that for a fountain of youth?!
Don’t wait another day to grab some weights or elastic resistance and start strengthening today for more energy, better health and reduce the chance of falling.
2. Melov, S., et al. Resistance Exercise Reverses Aging in Human Skeletal Muscle. PLoS One. 2007 May 23: 2(5):E465.
Cate Reade, MS, RD, is an ACE-certified Senior Fitness Specialist, and a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in Nutrition and Physical Fitness from NYU. She has been teaching, writing and prescribing healthy eating and exercise programs for over 25 years. She is delighted to be helping seniors regain strength and mobility as the CEO of Resistance Dynamics and inventor of the MoveMorª Lower Body Trainer. Contact Cate at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.MoveMor.com.