Though older adults often face unique health challenges, recent studies show that strength training can mitigate many of them, and prove more beneficial than cardio-based exercise. In today’s entry, we’ll explain a few of the benefits seniors can receive from strength training. Before we begin, it’s important to note that you should always speak with your doctor before you begin a new diet or exercise regimen.

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The Benefits of Strength Training for Seniors

Heart Health

A recent study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise looked at the exercise habits of seniors from 1987 through 2006. The study was robust and included approximately 13,000 seniors who engaged in aerobic training, strength training, or both.

The study found that while aerobic exercise did produce noticeable health improvements, strength training was much more effective at reducing the risk of both heart attack and stroke. In fact, one hour of strength training each week was all it took to reduce the risk of stroke by anywhere from 40% to 70%. Strength training was also shown to improve cholesterol and blood flow throughout the body.

Bone Strength

Bone strength is a common concern for seniors, especially with the prevalence of conditions such as osteoporosis on the rise. In addition to a healthy diet, strength training has been shown to increase bone density and reduce the risk of injury due to a fall. While patients who have osteoporosis should speak to a doctor and/or work with a personal trainer who can help them train safely, at-risk seniors can reduce their risk of developing the condition by incorporating strength training into their routine.

Metabolism

Did you know that lifting weights tends to burn more calories than aerobic exercise? Although some exercise is undoubtedly better than none, studies show that strength training is a more effective way to boost your metabolism and burn calories. If you enjoy getting on the elliptical machine or doing other cardio-based activities, then try adding strength training either before or after to give your body even more of a workout.

Chronic Disease Management

Many seniors across the United States suffer from chronic diseases such as arthritis, depression, diabetes, and obesity — to name but a few. We don’t have time to explore how strength training affects each of these conditions, but we’ve noted them because strength training has been shown to help alleviate and manage the majority of the symptoms they cause. Speak with your doctor if you’re interested in learning more about how strength training can help you in your specific circumstances.


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