Weight training, also known as strength training, is not just for the aspiring body builder, everyone can benefit from weight training. After all it is with weight training that we build muscles and muscles keep our metabolism strong and a healthy metabolism means more energy. So it shouldn't surprise you to learn that weight training is actually an appropriate and beneficial form of exercising for older adults.
As we age, our bodies experience physical and physiological changes. Weight training for senior citizens can improve those changes so that older adults can remain active and mentally sharp well into their aging years.
With age, muscles lose mass and strength, joints become stiffer and can even develop arthritis, making it difficult and even painful to move. One's sense of balance can be thrown off kilter causing falls, that may lead to broken hips and many times the need for long stays at the hospital. Strength training puts back muscle mass, as well as muscle strength that has been lost.
Muscle strength not only aids with movement but also aids with balance, so strong muscles will prevent many of the falls and injuries that cause the elderly to be hospitalized and immobile for long periods, if not permanently. Weight training will keep joints limber which reduces the stiffness and pain that causes many people to become inactive.
Immune systems become weaker making the elderly more susceptible to serious illnesses. Concentration and memory also become harder as we get older. Elderly people who do not exercise at all are at a much higher risk for becoming immobile and requiring long term care such as in a nursing facility, than elderly people who do exercise.
Weight training strengthens the immune system helping senior citizens to avoid illness and the expensive doctor visits and prescription medications needed to treat various illnesses. It is well known that after the age of 50 many of the diseases that can cut a life short develop within inactive bodies. By strengthening the immune system through weight training, one can build their resistance to different illnesses, as well as developing the internal strength the body needs to battle more serious diseases.
As we age, our skin loses much of its suppleness which results in skin that just hangs, usually downwards, on the body. Weight training for the elderly renews much of the suppleness to the skin that aging can take away. Skin will be tighter with less hanging on the body which can also help the elderly to feel more comfortable with their bodies.
Studies have shown that the elderly are at a higher risk for the development of depression and other mental disorders than younger adults. So from a physiological perspective strength training helps the body to manufacture greater amounts of hormones which are naturally made by the body.
These hormones help the organs and systems of the body including the brain to do the work they do. Hormones help the brain with processes such as cognitive thought and memory, and hormones hugely contribute to how we feel and respond to different things. Senior citizens who participate in weight training programs report fewer instances of feeling depressed than those who do not exercise.
Weight training has also been proven to slow the progression of the natural effects of aging, and even thwart the development of such conditions as dementia. Exercise programs brought to senior citizen residents in nursing homes has also been shown to help those who have lost mobility to regain some movement and even improve mental functioning. If you work with the elderly in a nursing home setting, consider bringing the benefits of weight training to them.
It is recommended that a weight training program for the elderly be guided by the expertise of a certified personal trainer.