Why Strength Training Is A Must For Seniors

If done regularly, strength training builds bone density and muscles to preserve strength, independence and energy.

One of the best ways to keep muscles healthy and strong is through Strength Training. Studies at Tufts University have shown that strength training is one of the best ways to fight the weakness and fragility that can come with age since the muscle loss results mainly from inactivity. The old saying is true when it comes to muscle; use it or lose it.

If done regularly, strength training builds bone density and muscles to preserve strength, independence and energy. These exercises are safe for men and women of all ages, including those who are not in perfect health. In fact people with chronic conditions like arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, obesity and back pain can benefit a lot from strength training.

Strength Training when done with a regular aerobic exercise can also have a major effect on a person's mental health. Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly sleep better and improve their sense of well being. No matter how old you are you do not have to get weaker with age.

Age or illness- If you think you are too old or out of shape to lift weights, be rest assured people have successfully started strength training in their 70s, 80s and even in 90s and you can too. The same goes with people who are not active. You will need to start slowly and follow basic safety rules. It is better if you start your exercises under a certified coach. Making any major lifestyle change can be challenging but as long as you are committed to yourself, what follows is going to be worth it. Celebrating your success is a great way to monitor yourself.

How to start- You can start exercise without any weights. You can start with chair sit ups, wall pushups, single leg hold improves balancing. 2-3 times in a week try stretches and then after that you can add weights. As you get stronger you can also add new exercises.

Tip- Don't perform the exercise quickly. This should be done in a slow controlled manner.

When to progress-

It may be time to add heavier weights to you workout if you are in good health, exercising regularly and given exercises started to feel too easy. An exercise should be considered too easy if you can do more than 12 or 15 repetitions of it.

A word of caution- Do not progress if you have been sick, are injured or your muscles feel very sore.

Fight with Type 2 Diabetes - Training increases levels of HSGLT3 mrna by a factor of 10; a molecule that plays a role in sensing glucose levels and signaling the body to response appropriately. Glucose transporter Type -4 increases in density in response to weight training to help increase glucose absorption into the cell.

Slowing age related muscle loss -It is estimated that 5-13% of elderly people in the age range of 60-70 years old and 11-50% for those who are 80 or above suffer from Sarcopenia (Age related muscle loss). According to a research, volunteers in the age range of 61-80 were able to add 2.4 pounds of muscles after doing 3 days of strength training per week and saw their physical age reduce by an average of 5 years. Allowing them to literally feel younger and be healthier.

Effective fat loss- One study demonstrated an increase in the metabolic rate by 7% and decrease in fat weight of 1.8 kg over 10 weeks of training.

Increased Irisin Hormone- Irisin is a hormone that plays a role in converting white fat into brown fat. White Fat is used as an energy reserve in the body, insulation and as a cushion for our organs. But excess white fat is that fun little tummy pouch we all have dreadfully poked out in the mirror. Whereas, brown fat contains a large number of mitochondria (it produces energy known as ATP) and blood vessels which play a role in burning fat, generating heat. By increasing levels of Irisin, you are increasing levels of brown fat and increasing overall fat burning potential with strength training.

Stable posture- Many older adults start to feel an increased sense of instability after the age of 70. As the sense of instability grows, so does the fear of falling. And one of the most natural things to do in response to treat fear is to avoid activities that cause us to feel unstable. This pattern by decreasing our activity level sets us down on a dangerous path. From Inactivity comes muscle loss, less flexibility, joint stiffness and shrinking range of motion. All of these lead to an even greater sense of instability. In response we lower our activity level further. Before we know it we get caught in a dangerous cycle of fragility.

Strength training can help get you out of this pattern and make you feel more stable with your posture as well as with the movements.

Mental Strength- A single workout that you do will immediately increase the level of Neurotransmitters like Dopamine, Serotonin and Nor-adrenaline. The more you are working out, the bigger and stronger your hippocampus and prefrontal cortex get. Why is this important? Because the prefrontal Cortex and hippocampus are the two areas that are most susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases and normal cognitive decline in aging .

Conclusion- As a strength coach who has worked with a lot of senior people over the years, my suggestion is to get out of the comfort zone and take a positive approach towards your health. Don't fall for the myths, understand the facts and take that very needed step towards your health. It also becomes important for the family members to change the way they look at the elders in the family. They need to be more supportive and encouraging towards elder's fitness. A little support can work wonders in their lives.

About the author - 

Ajay Yadav

Strength and Conditioning Coach (NSCA)

Founder of Leoflexpro

Can be reached at

Tags assigned to this article:
senior care strength training


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