One of the biggest if not the biggest reason that many folks begin to workout after age 50 is because they want to improve their balance and mobility.
The fear of falling and getting hurt is not only very real but increasingly likely as we age.
Add to it the loss of strength and energy and you can understand why so many of us begin to make it a priority to start exercising.
There is no wrong exercise but one mistake that many people make is that they focus on doing cardio (walking, elliptical, biking) which is great for improving your heart and lung function but isn’t going to do much to improve your balance and mobility.
The key to having better balance, mobility and strength is to incorporate weight training into your exercise regimen at least 2-3 times per week.
Weight training, also called resistance training or strength training, is the activity of lifting barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and other heavy weights.
Most people, especially women, are afraid of weight lifting. The fear is not that they want to get muscular, but it is that they associate weight lifting with bodybuilders, who they associate with free weight lifting and doing bench presses.
Weight lifting cannot bulk you up. The hormone that builds muscle (testosterone) is much higher in men than in women that unless you are supplementing with any artificial hormones, you probably won’t get “big” just by lifting weights. Add to it that testosterone levels tend to plummet as we age making it even harder to “gain mass” as the bodybuilders call it.
Incorporating strength training into your weekly exercise routine like we do in our Living Fit After 50 virtual training program is not only important I’d venture to say it’s crucial.
Yes there is a slight risk of getting hurt (almost always due to improper form not the weight itself) but the benefits far…FAR outweigh the risk.
Here are some of those benefits:
It Increases Metabolic Efficiency and Your Body’s Ability To Burn Calories
So many people complain about how much harder it is to lose weight as you get older. They aren’t wrong but it’s not the age that’s the cause it’s the loss of muscle mass and subsequent slowing down of your metabolism that’s the issue.
The 1 ½ pound of muscle lost each year after the age of thirty produces 1 ½% reduction in Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) each year. Low BMR means that your body is less likely to convert the food you consume into energy which means the food will be stored as body fat.
Even when we are asleep our muscles use, on average, 25% of our body’s calories.
If you implement the principles of effective muscle training and stay consistent with the program, you can have an increased lean muscle mass in your body and increased BMR.
This means that you can condition your metabolism to work efficiently, even when you are just resting.
An increase in muscle tissue leads to an increase in metabolic rate, while a decrease in muscle tissue leads to a decrease in your metabolic rates.
It Improves Performance and Physical Appearance
You know that “fit” appearance so many people strive for? I hate to break it to you but you aren’t going to get it from doing just cardio.
One result of weight lifting is that it increases physical performance. Muscles use energy to move. Weight training increases the muscle’s strength, size, and endurance, hence improving your work, sports, or everyday activities.
This in turn has a positive impact on your overall body composition and appearance which of course influences your level of confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth.
For instance, consider a person weighing 170 pounds, with a 20% body fat composition, 136 pounds of lean body weight (organs, bones, water, muscle, etc.) and 34 pounds of fat weight.
Through weight lifting, they may replace 5 pounds of fat with 5 pounds of muscle. Even though they may still weigh 170 pounds, they will have 17% fat with 141 pounds lean body weight and 29 pounds fat weight.
The body might remain the same, but their strength, muscle tone, and metabolism will be improved, and they will have a fitter appearance.
It Reduces The Risk Of Injury and Falling, Improves Balance & Mobility and Boosts Energy Levels
Our muscles act as shock absorbers, and they serve as balancing agents in our bodies. Well-conditioned muscles can help lessen the repetitive landing forces that you can get from weight-bearing activities such as playing basketball or jogging.
Well-balanced muscles enable us to move better which in turn reduces the risk of falling as well as the risk of injury should you fall.
It also reduces the likelihood of having unbalanced muscles. Unbalance muscles occur when a muscle is weaker than its opposing muscle group.
For example you have a strong front core (from all those crunches) but your back is weak because you never exercised it (causing back pain).
To minimize the risk of unbalanced muscle development, it is recommended that you train both the muscle and its opposing muscle group during your workout. Something we focus on a lot in our training programs.
For instance, we don’t just do chest or ab exercises we incorporate back (upper and lower) exercise as well to ensure a well rounded and strong core.
If you aren’t already incorporating strength training into your weekly routine. Start today!
I assure you, in just a few short weeks you’ll see amazing differences as so many of our clients will tell you!