Many of you have heard the saying “Getting old is not for sissies.” And all of you know how true that is. If you have experienced trouble opening a new bottle of ketchup, wondered whether it is still safe for you to get on the step ladder, or considered whether you need to stop buying that extra large economy size container of laundry detergent because it is too heavy to lift, then you also know why it is important to maintain your strength as you get older.
Some changes in muscle function will occur with aging, but you have the power to slow and even reverse these changes, build muscle that has been lost, and become stronger. Having good muscular functioning, which can be improved with strength training, has been shown to have a wide range of benefits. Maintaining strong muscles increases ability to function independently and carry out routine daily tasks. Muscular endurance helps you to carry out and recover quickly from those repetitive daily tasks such as mopping, sweeping, or raking. Strong muscles are an important component of maintaining good balance and reducing the risk of falls. Muscle strength and quality is also related to flexibility. Muscle control, which can also be influenced by strength training, is an important factor in reaction time, an important consideration in avoiding and reacting quickly to unexpected situations (ACSM, 2009).
Many of you may already do regular strength training. Others of you may be wondering if you need to go to the gym and “pump iron” and are intimidated by this prospect. If strength training has not been part of your exercise routine, you may wonder how to get started, what should you do, how do you do it correctly, and what to expect exactly. That is where a certified fitness professional comes in. Whether you select one-on-one or small group training, a fitness professional provides step-by-step instruction on the types of exercises, proper form, and all the details you need for a safe and effective strength training program. Strength training programs can be done safely in your home with little or no equipment. Make strength training a part of your daily routine to ensure healthy, independent functioning for years to come.
You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old. – George Burns
ACSM. (2009). Position stand: Exercise and physical activity for older adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41(7), 1510-1530. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181a0c95c