The benefits of resistance training for older adults have been proven by recent study after study. In fact, some of the newest results are absolutely amazing.
The Real Fountain of Youth – Discovered!
Science has demonstrated that Resistance Training can actually reverse damage to our genes caused by aging. In effect, this restoration can make these genes youthful again.
In a study published by Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico, it was found that resistance training literally does reverse the aging process at a genetic level.
During this study, the group trained for 26 weeks while the researchers monitored 179 genes associated with aging. The goal was to see if the resistance training had any effect on those particular genes. Their conclusion was that it did in fact:
“This means quite literally that the resistance training was not only slowing but also reversing the aging process at the gene level,” according to Dr. Kravitz.
Light Weights, High Reps
Interestingly, the study used a training method very similar to the one we promote here at BoomerMuscle. 3-5 Sets of each exercise. High reps. Lighter weights.
For the study, participants did 3 sets of each exercise for 10 reps each. They did a variety of exercises ultimately working the entire body. Here, we promote doing 3 – 5 sets per exercise, depending on your fitness level, and 8 – 12 reps per. Very similar approach.
My favorite workout scheme is to go 4 days per week, focusing on a different area of the body each day with this approach. It features lighter weights at this higher rep range. I know from personal experience that it works. I didn’t know until recently, it was also literally making me younger at the genetic level.
Can Older Adults Really Build Muscle?
Here’s a link to an article on research analysis conducted by the University of Michigan that demonstrated older adults definitely can and should build muscle.
“… not only can we fight the battle of strength and muscle loss as we age, we can even build muscle and strength well into our Golden Years.” Credit: U-M Health System.
This is a quick NY Times article on the same subject, with references to a study by the University of Alabama. It answers the question: “Can you regain muscle mass after age 60?” with a resounding “Yes.”
The point is, recent study after study has come to the same conclusion. You can dramatically improve your life with resistance training. And you can build muscle even as you age — at any age.
Additional Benefits of Resistance Training
This really can change your life in so many positive ways:
Reduce obesity and manage your weight. Strength training is better than cardio at burning calories over the long haul. While cardio burns slightly more while you’re doing it, strength training burns calories for hours after you’ve finished. Plus, muscle burns calories even while you’re resting. So as you change your body, you are amping up your metabolism.
On top of all that, building muscle and reducing fat will help protect you from these diseases and conditions:
Sarcopenia – the age-related loss of muscle that can rob you of half your muscle mass over time and leave you frail and weak. It can also help reverse Osteoporosis (brittle bones) and the height shrinking effect that happens as we age.
Diabetes – recent studies show strength training can actually prevent Type 2 diabetes and can better manage the disease for those who already have it, according to Web MD
Heart Disease – the American Heart Association recommends strength training at least 2 days per week
Arthritis – the Arthritis Foundation recommends resistance training via circuit strength training
Back Pain – can be reduced by strengthening core muscles, like the glutes, according to Web MD
Anxiety and Depression – studies have shown strength training reduces both
On that last point, it’s worth noting that many people are coping with anxiety and depression. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says 40 million people suffer from Anxiety and more than 15 people will experience clinical Depression annually.
Being overweight is no fun. Feeling strong and in better shape feels good. I realize that’s an oversimplification, but honestly, if you are fighting those things, strength training can be an avenue to a happier outlook.
And you don’t have to be intimidated by the idea of resistance training. Some people promote the idea of getting ripped abs after 50. Some promote the notion of looking like a bodybuilder. Some will try to sell you a dozen DVDs and a bunch of PDFs for programs with cute nicknames like X747 Zoom!
To all that, I say NUTS! It’s just not that complicated and you don’t have to aspire to look like that. Take a look at this mom, who dropped 6 dress sizes while only losing 2 pounds. Perfect? No. Looking great and feeling great? Yes!
The goal isn’t to be perfect but to feel better about your health and appearance. Resistance training is not easy. It’s not a magic potion or a bottle of pills. But it works. It does not have to cause pain or be an insane Bootcamp. We’re too old for that kind of nonsense.
I’ve been training for nearly 50 years. I’ve never had ripped abs and I don’t expect that will change. I do have muscle and have had success against the battle of the bulge. And that’s great for me.