Many people linger under the mistaken belief your golden years should be a time of rest, relaxation and exercise no more vigorous than a round of golf using a cart. But keeping moving at any age provides enormous health benefits. The benefits of strength training for seniors include increased independence and healthier bones, to name only a few.
Why Is Building Muscle After Menopause Worthwhile?
Building muscle after menopause offers unique challenges due to hormonal shifts, but the positive health effects make the effort worth it. Plus hitting the gym or community center proves a great way to meet new friends and remain connected with others in your community. Here are seven health benefits of keeping up the iron pumping well after you’ve reached retirement age.
1. Get Social
Many community centers and commercial gym locations offer specialty classes such as Silver Sneakers geared toward older adults. Some programs make use of aids such as chairs to help with those who have balance challenges; others use gentle strength bands for resistance along with medicine balls and light hand weights.
The best part of such classes? The members have a way of becoming a solid band of friends. Many do things like grab lunch or tea together after their fitness classes. As many older adults struggle to maintain a healthy social life once they retire, such classes offer a valuable support system as well as a way to stay physically healthy.
2. Prevent Disease
Many Americans consider falling victim to disease an inevitable part of the aging process. While it is true older adults are more prone to disease, aging doesn’t need to mean ailing. Exercising and building muscle after menopause helps to ward off anything from heart disease to dementia.
Why? Exercise increases blood flow to the organs of the body, including the brain. And the more muscle mass you have, the more efficiently your heart pumps blood, too. This bathes organs in vital oxygen and nutrients, keeping them healthier longer.
3. Ward Off Injuries
One of the key benefits of strength training for seniors is it allows them to minimize chances of injuries. As falls do make up one of the largest causes of at-home injuries, strengthening the muscles to improve core balance and aid in quicker recovery when incidents do occur allows older adults to continue to live on their own.
Getting your exercise plan going in the winter in a northern state? Consider hiring an in-home trainer who can help you start out from the comfort of your home! If you work out at home, though, it’s very important to make sure your house is well optimized so you run a lower risk of a fall.
4. Prevent Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis doesn’t only make you appear shorter and hunched over; it makes you more likely to break bones if you fall. In this condition, the bones become thin and porous, allowing them to break and bend easily. Strength training benefits bone health and wards off the disease by encouraging continued growth even in your senior years.
Even if you prefer aquatic exercise due to conditions like arthritis making moving on land painful, try to fit in resistance training two to three times weekly. Use water weights or even use resistance bands and a chair to perform leg extensions, biceps curls and more. Include core exercises in water or on land to help with balance.
5. Treat Arthritis Pain
Swollen joints are loathe to move, but once you get going, the increased blood flow from strength training eases arthritis pain. Many seniors prefer weight training to cardio for this reason — unlike repetitive motions such as walking which can inflame knees more, weight workouts allow the joints to rest between movements. And you still can get your heart rate pumping by alternating between upper and lower body movements to allow little rest between sets.
6. Improved Ability to Tackle Daily Living Activities
When you set down your groceries to unlock your front door, knowing how to pick them back up safely and having the strength to do so prevents injury. And chasing the grand kids around definitely proves easier when your leg muscles are strong enough to do so and still bounce them on your knee afterward. Strength training helps you perform everyday tasks such as trimming bushes and pushing the vacuum.
7. Finding a Sense of Independence
Finally, one of the key benefits of strength training for seniors is helping them maintain their independence. Many older adults find themselves in nursing homes with sharp minds but failing bodies. Building muscle after menopause helps keep bodies moving as they should, staving off the need for more intensive levels of care.
Reaping the Benefits of Strength Training for Seniors
Your sunset years should be your happiest, and part of making them this way means remaining in good health. By remaining dedicated to building muscle after menopause, you can ward off agings’ debilitating effects and keep your energy levels high. Plus you can enjoy independent living, make new friends and wring the most out of every day!