Strength training is an integral part of a well-rounded exercise program, and is recommended for both sexes of all ages, including kids and seniors. Unfortunately, many ignore weight training when devising their exercise plan, thinking they don’t want to “bulk up.” But gaining more muscle through resistance exercises has many benefits, from losing excess fat to maintaining healthy bone mass and preventing age-related muscle loss as you age.
The intensity of your resistance training can achieve a number of beneficial changes on the molecular, enzymatic, hormonal, and chemical level in your body, which will also help slow down (and many cases stop) many of the diseases caused by a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore it’s also an essential element if you want to prevent common diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, or weakening of your bones (osteoporosis), limited range of motion, aches and pains.
Biomarkers of aging are determinants of aging that you are capable of controlling. They’re things that tell you how old you would be if you didn’t know how old you were. This includes but is not limited to the following—all of which strength training has a beneficial impact on: strength and muscle mass, body composition, blood lipids, bone density, cardio-respiratory fitness, and gene expression.Research has shown that strength training in the elderly reversed oxidative stress and returned gene expression in 179 genes to a more youthful level, making them 10 years “younger”.
While it’s never too late to start exercising, the earlier you begin and the more consistent you are, the greater your long-term rewards. Having an active lifestyle is really an investment in your future well-being. Interestingly, strength training has been found to have a beneficial impact on your gene expression — not only slowing aging but actually returning gene expression to youthful levels in seniors who start using resistance training.
Biological aging, and eventually death, can be defined as “the changes in structures and functions of humans with the passage of time that does not result from disease or gross accidents.” Under the right conditions, you can live indefinitely, as long as you can prevent or recover from biochemical, cellular and physical accidents.
Diet accounts for the majority, about 80 percent, of the health benefits you reap from a healthy lifestyle, but exercise is a crucial component and adjunct to a healthy diet. Exercise, and strength training in particular, is a force multiplier and the great leveraging agent. Overall, interval training (short, intense bursts of movement followed by rest) may give you even greater payoffs when incorporated with strength training.
A recent article in Forbes magazine highlighted the benefits of strength training for the aging population, rightfully asserting that it plays a far more important role than aerobic exercise. According to Forbes:
“[T]he average 30-35 year old person will experience roughly a 25 percent decline in his or her muscle strength and tone by the age of 70-75, and up to a 50 percent decline approaching the age of 90. Simply doing aerobic exercise such as walking or light treadmill workouts will not be adequate to preserve muscle tone, bone health, balance and posture. If you are not engaging in strength or resistance training, the chances are high that you will lose strength and become less functional as you age.
… Research has clearly shown that strength training can help to reduce the pace of bone loss, while some studies have demonstrated that such training can actually help to build bone… Movements and exercises that place stress on bones help to form additional calcium deposits and stimulate bone forming cells.”
Weight-bearing exercise is one of the most effective remedies against osteoporosis. For example, a walking lunge exercise is a great way to build bone density in your hips, even without any additional weights. The last thing you want to consider is to take a prescription drug to improve your bone density, as without question, that is more likely to cause long-term harm than benefit.
Ideally, you’ll want to include a variety of exercises for a well-rounded fitness regimen. Strength training is an important component as it’s the number one way for you to remain strong, young, and independent well into old age.