Benefits of Strength Training and the Older Adult

Strength Training is a very important aspect to your fitness regimen as you age.  Between 30-50 years old the average human will lose 40% of its strength in the lower body and 50% of its strength in the upper body. After 50 years of age, individuals tend to lose an additional 15% of their total strength every 10 years. It is important to continue to exercise your muscles as you age to help increase bone mass, improve balance, increase metabolic rate, in turn, reducing body fat, and decrease resting blood pressure. 

There are many other benefits of strength training for the older adult that relate to becoming more functional and living an independent lifestyle.  Some examples of this are walking more efficiently, improving posture, and decreasing your risk of serious medical conditions.  Your muscles do not age so they will continue to work for you as long as you continue to work them.  It is wise to schedule an appointment with your fitness professional to properly start your strength training protocol. 

Some basic guidelines to work towards are to exercise a minimum of 2 times per week.  Your body needs about 24 hours of rest between strength training exercises so if you would like to exercise daily, be sure to alternate days with lower body and upper body exercises.  Each session should include 8-10 different exercises to isolate the intended muscle group to obtain benefits in stability, strength, power, and posture. 

Each exercise includes two sets of 10-15 repetitions at a moderate to high level of effort perceived by the individual.  It is good to challenge yourself but always allow time to rest.  Also, coordinate your breathing with the exercise by inhaling on the “rest” part of the exercise and exhaling on the “work” part of the exercise. 

Avoid any exercises that may refer pain to an arthritic area of your body and modify the exercise to use proper technique in order to avoid injury. Most importantly have FUN with this type of exercise because of the immediate feeling of gain and reward.

Benefits of Strength Training

  • Increased bone mass
  • Increased strength of muscle and connective tissue
  • Improved balance
  • Increased metabolic rate
  • Reduced body fat
  • Improved glucose tolerance and insulin levels
  • Reduced resting blood pressure
  • Reduced stress

Top 10 Reasons for Strength Training

  1. Walk faster or more efficiently
  2. Climb steps safely
  3. Improve posture
  4. Maintain independence
  5. Decrease risk of medical conditions
  6. Sleep better
  7. Better balance to avoid falls
  8. Feel better
  9. Look better
  10. Muscles do not age- they will continue to work for you as long as you continue to work them

Exercise Guidelines

Muscle strengthening

  • Minimum of 2x/week; nonconsecutive days
  • 8 – 10 exercises per session
  • Use resistance that allows 10 – 15 repetitions
  • Moderate to high level of effort (on 10 point scale, effort level should be 5-8) matched to the individual’s level of ability
  • Alternate Muscle groups each day allowing your body to recover between workouts

If you are interested in starting a fitness program or want to learn more about the Center for Optimal Living please visit or call us at 910-408-3039