Training for Seniors: It’s Never Too Late!

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Question: You frequently have information about training for young people but I need info about training for someone in their 70’s. What is the best way to workout? What results can I expect from working out? How much do I need to workout?
Answer: The physical changes from exercise are similar to those of younger adults and in some cases those results are more dramatic in older adults as exercise reduces some of the problems we face from aging. The American Journal of Preventative Medicine reported that those seniors who exercised by weight training maintained or improved bone density and muscle mass. A study from Arthritis Research & Therapy compared exercisers and non-exercisers and determined that the exercising group experienced less joint and muscle pain than the non-exercisers. The Journal of American Geriatrics Society reviewed the correlation between reduction in the number of falls in seniors among those who exercised and found that the risk of falls was decreased by nearly 60% through exercising. Finally, the Health and Human Services Diabetes Prevention Program determined individuals over 60 could reduce the risk of the development of diabetes by 71% if they followed a routine including 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week along with a low-fat, low-calorie meal plan.
Aging reduces the number of mitochondria, which are the power plants of cells, and reduces the effectiveness of the transmission of nerve signals to muscles. Our fast-twitch muscle fibers can begin disappearing in our 30’s. This rate of reduction stays constant until our 70’s at which time it accelerates. The good news is that you can slow this reduction by resistance training and it doesn’t matter when you start you can still reap benefits of training at any age. A study reported in the Harvard Health Letter looked at muscle tissue of older men who had been weightlifting for 12 years or more and found that they maintained more muscle tissue that was indistinguishable from men who were 40 to 50 years younger than those who did not exercise.
If going to a gym is not possible then some exercises to do at home for a beginner include chair squats, stair climbing, wall push-ups and squat presses. One of the tools used with good results is wearing a weighted vest while doing these exercises, but if a weighted vest is not something available to you then use simple jugs of water. A gallon of water weighs 8 pounds and the jugs have a handle. For the squats, stair climbing and squat presses you could hold those water weights and have a total of 16 pounds of resistance. For beginners do three sets of each of these home exercises for 15 reps each time, three days a week and start your fitness and muscle rescue program.
It’s never too late to make positive changes in your health.
God bless and keep training,
Daryl

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