The Secret to Staying Fit After 50
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus…” — Hebrews 12:1
What if there was a quick and easy way to reduce and even reverse the toll that time has taken on our bodies? If you knew you could eliminate fatigue, joint pain, back issues, and sleep trouble in just 90 minutes a week, would you make the time for this secret? And what if this secret was not only free, but backed by hundreds of peer-reviewed, double-blind studies published in professional journals over the last two decades?
Does this secret sound too good to be true? It’s not. And it’s not really a secret. It’s called resistance training, and it can do all this and more. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, resistance training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many diseases and chronic conditions among adults over 50 including: arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, back pain and depression.1 Resistance training can also increase bone mass, lower the risk of fractures and slow and even reverse losses in lean muscle mass, a process once thought to be inevitable.2
So how does it work? Simply put, 2 to 3 times a week you work the main muscle groups including arms, legs and core by performing 10 to 15 repetitions of an appropriate exercise to failure. Exercises can be as simple as a squat, arm curl, or plank. Once you are able to perform 15 repetitions easily, you simply add more weight, or make the movement more difficult, and repeat the process. The ACSM recommends both resistance training and aerobic activity on a regular basis; 20 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity 3 to 5 days per week coupled with 20 to 30 minutes of resistance training, 2 to 3 times per week for those aged 65 or more.3
Resistance training has changed the lives of thousands, but a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled “The Benefits of Pumping Iron in Later Life” sums it up well. “At 75, a retired thoracic surgeon had such severe spinal pain — the result of being hunched over patients for years during surgery — that he couldn’t even manage walking more than a block or two. After incorporating strength training into his workout routine three years ago, he is now playing nine holes of golf twice a week, and walked 6 miles a day last summer during his vacation. A pretty nice return on his investment of time!”4
If resistance training is new to you or you’ve not lifted weights for a while, follow these simple guidelines to help get you started:
- Start slowly and only progress by adding weight or repetitions once you are completely comfortable performing 15 repetitions with good form.
- If you are unclear about proper form or have ongoing injuries, work with a professional trainer or physical therapist to help get you on the right track.
- You should not experience pain while performing any resistance training movements. However, it is normal to experience some soreness the next day.
- You do not need to use machines or free weights to begin, or even at all if you so choose. TRX Suspension workouts and Swiss ball/Bosu ball programs can be equally effective.
No matter the program you choose, enjoy yourself. Resistance training can be fun and exciting and can open up a world of fitness possibilities to people of all ages.
See you out there!
—Yours in Health, Daniel Flahiff
- CDC/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta, GA; http://www.cdc.gov/ physicalactivity/growingstronger/why/. February 24, 2011. Retrieved 4-12-15.
- Willoughby, Darryn S., Ph.D., CSCS, FACSM “Resistance Training and the Older Adult”, ACSM Current Comment, Indianapolis, IN., 2.
- Bushman, Barbara A., PhD, FACSM, ACSM-PD, ACSM-CES, ACSM-HFS, ACSM-CPT, ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, Fourth Edition ( New York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2014), 513.
- Guerin, George, New Jersey.com; http://www.nj.com/healthfit/fitness/index.ss f/2015/04/post_49.html . April 21, 2015. Retrieved 429, 2015.