By Niall Ebbs
ACE Personal Trainer, Health Coach, Weight Management Specialist
Resistance training comes in many forms – free weights, machine weights, body weight training, using bands or tubes, suspension training, to name a few. There are some more obscure, non-structured types but generally when we talk about resistance training, we are referring to a more structured program that incorporates repetitions, sets, etc. Not everyone enjoys the idea or practice of following a rigorous regimen of weightlifting, but to find a routine that is manageable is a hugely beneficial addition to your health.
As we age beyond maturity, bone density and strength will naturally decline. This puts us at a greater risk of falls and injuries related to bone mass weakness in old age. Without resistance training, it is difficult to defend against this. It also becomes more difficult to recover from an injury. If you have been active and have effectively strengthened bones and improved stability around the joints, you will find that recovery comes much sooner.
My own experience with resistance training comes from a background of sports, where having strength and muscle mass was an advantage on the rugby pitch or wrestling mat. However, I completely understand that if you have not had the need for this, or simply have not been athletically inclined in the past, it can be difficult to find the motivation to start lifting weights regularly. I believe that the key to beginning, adopting, and maintaining a resistance program is understanding how it can improve your life and make the day-to-day easier, especially as we age.
Here are some great reasons to adopt a regular resistance training program:
- Bone Density – As previously mentioned, resistance training increases bone density. Due to the need to compensate for an external resistance being applied during weightlifting, bone growth is stimulated. For older adults this means stronger bones that are less prone to fractures.
- Joint Stability – A balanced weight training routine will incorporate movements or exercises involving all the joints in the body. This will strengthen and stabilize the connective tissues – tendons, ligaments – and the joint capsules, which will also improve flexibility and ease of movement.
- Self-Confidence and Quality of Life – Feeling and physically being stronger boosts self-confidence. This will help to alleviate some of the hesitation that you may have when approaching new activities. When we feel more confident, we participate at a higher level and enjoy our lives much more.
- Activities of Daily Living – A regular resistance training program will make activities of daily living – carrying groceries, gardening, housekeeping etc. – much easier. The lifting, bending, stretching, and twisting involved in these day-to-day tasks is something that shouldn’t necessarily feel like a workout in and of itself.
- Body Composition – Lifting weights helps to increase lean muscle mass which boosts metabolic rate and contributes to a healthier body composition. When we are leaner, we burn more calories at rest since muscle is more metabolically active than fat. This makes it less daunting to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight. Resistance training, for this reason, should always be part of a weight loss plan.
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