As we age, the importance and numerous benefits of weight training, becomes increasingly significant. Endless research has been done on this topic, and as a result of these studies we now have hard evidence that as we age our bone density declines or weakens, but unlike some degenerative conditions, there is something we can do to battle one of the most common negative effects of aging.
Medical studies have shown that by keeping stress on the bones and keeping the joints moving, we can maintain healthy bone density and problem free joints as we age. Why weight training? Simply put, the process of lifting weight causes the muscles and tendons to pull against the bone, this process stimulates the cells in the bone to produce more bone, thus increasing bone density; most people don’t realize that bone is living – growing tissue.
There are several other considerable benefits to weight training besides increasing bone density; weight training has also been proven to reverse the natural decline in your metabolic rate which begins around the age of 30 and becomes very apparent by the age of 40. To help combat a slowing metabolism and control weight, weight training builds muscles and muscle burns way more calories than fat, so the more lean muscle you have, the more totally calories you burn throughout the day.
Weight training or as it is some times called ” strength training, load-bearing or weight- bearing” exercise (exercises in which your muscle move against resistance) can very well be called the “Fountain of Health”.
Unfortunately, due to a common old school misconception regarding lifting weights, many people have shied away from weight training in fear of getting muscle bound or getting a muscle beach, body builder physique. Let me put this thinking to rest right away. The average person would have to lift an insane amount of weight and train for hours a day (or ingest dangerous steroids) to even get close to having to buy triple x shirts. Women in particular fear lifting weights, afraid of the muscle bound myth, but the fact is that weight training will tone their bodies (especially that troublesome flab under the arm, that so many women complain about) and by strengthening their bones through weight training, they will be greatly reducing their risk of developing osteoporosis. While women are four times more likely than men to develop the disease, don’t be fooled, men also can also suffer from osteoporosis. Over 28 million Americans suffer from this present day health threat.
In regards to seniors, adults 65 and older, weighting training not only helps with bone density issues, but also increases muscle strength as well, thereby improving range of motion and balance, providing them with a safer and higher quality of life. Every 18 seconds, a senior has a fall. Every 35 minutes someone in this age group dies as a direct result of their injuries caused by a fall. Falls are the leading cause of injury related deaths. In one year alone more then 1.8 million people 65 years or older were treated in emergency rooms, 20-30% of seniors who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip factures and trauma. Much of this could have been avoided with increased senior physical conditioning through weight training and other exercise.
Good nutrition also plays an important role in keeping bones healthy. Bones are made up of about 65 percent minerals and a large percentage is made up of calcium. Just as keeping a load (weight or resistance) on bones is important, calcium is also critical to maintaining healthy, growing, dense bones. Other important nutrients needed are: Vitamin D, which aids the body to absorb calcium. Phosphorus that with calcium creates the bonding glue that provides the bones strength. Magnesium, works with calcium and impacts structure. Certain vitamins and other minerals also have active roles in bone health, such as vitamins like C, A, K and minerals copper, zinc, manganese.
Been kind to your body, treat it with the respect it deserves and it will serve you well for years to come. As with all exercise programs, before embarking on a new program consult your medical provider, and to avoid injury and learn proper mechanics seek the guidance of a certified personal trainer for the ultimate experience.
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