We all know that as we age, things don’t stay where they used to be and with a billion dollar cosmetic and plastic surgery industry, it’s evidence that we are trying to fight the process! The fountain of youth seems to elude us starting at about 35, really accelerating after age 40, but I’m here to share good news with you!
There is so much data and research on the positive effects between strength training and aging and how it not only slows the aging process, but can actually reverse it. Without getting super scientific on you, I want to share 3 reasons you should strength train as you age.
Preventing muscle loss-
This seems pretty obvious right, but as we age, something called Sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia can be defined as the natural age-related loss of muscle mass, strength and muscle function (www.unm.edu)
Basically Sarcopenia occurs because as we age something called oxidative stress happens and this is a low state of antioxidants. Oxidizing produces “free radicals” which cause cell destruction and are the cause of disease and aging. Therefore, antioxidants gather up these free radicals and also repair the damage they have done.
Strength training aids to reduce oxidative stress and increase antioxidant levels which leads to preventing and reversing this age-related loss of muscle mass. Simply by adding strength training to your exercise routine you not only prevent muscle loss, but can dramatically decrease the rate of aging.
When I look at my friend Carol, who is over 65 years old and does CrossFit, I think we can agree she is the epitome of preventing muscle loss with strength training.
2. Increases Bone Density-
We hear a lot about this as we age. Osteoporosis, or bone thinning, is a real problem because it leads to fractures, especially hip fractures. We are told to take calcium supplements as we age to help prevent this bone-thinning, but the reality is is that all the calcium supplements in the world won’t help if we don’t add strength training into your fitness routine.
During strength training the muscles pull against the bones thus putting the bones under stress. This bone stress causes the bone to lay down new bone by adding the free calcium into the bone. Without strength training, the free calcium floating around in our blood doesn’t get added to the bone*.
It’s only when our bones get stressed does new calcium allow for bone density to increase. Activities like swimming, yoga, pilates, biking and rowing don’t do this-it’s only activities like running and resistance training that stimulate the manufacture of new bone.
Our friend, Leslie, saw her bone density scan go from the first stages of osteoporosis to absolutely no bone thinning at all just by doing CrossFit for 2 years! As women, we are especially susceptible to osteoporosis because as we age our estrogen levels drop with menopause. This leads to accelerated bone thinning and higher probability of true osteoporosis. If you are taking calcium and not strength training, it’s almost pointless to take it. So get moving some weights around!
3. Reduce Belly Fat-
I don’t know about you, but it’s almost expected that as we age we should get the pudge around the middle section. Seems like everyone expects it happen. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to happen. Now part of reducing belly fat comes with your diet. That’s why Paleo is so fantastic-it cuts out most of the foods that cause not only belly bloat, but accumulation of belly fat.
But strength training plays a huge part in this too. After age 50, the average weight gain is 1 pound per year! Strength training increases your metabolism not only while you are working out, but for hours afterwards as well. More than that though, it prevents lean muscle loss that contributes to that 1 pound per year weight gain.
Here is a picture of one of our featured CrossFit Athletes of the Week, Martha. She is 59 years old! Belly fat does NOT have to happen just because you are aging!
These are just 3 reasons why you should strength train, especially as you age. There are many more benefits not mention just looking and feeling better, but society will encourage you to just walk and swim as you get older instead of adding weights to your exercise routine. We encourage you to go against the grain and start lifting heavy!
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