Here is an excellent article on strength training past 50 by James Laabs. I am 65 and work out regularly. I just do not feel right if I don't and it gives me a chance to do my spiritual work in an altered state from the deep breathing, and strength training is part of what I do to breath deep. The one thing that Coach Laabs does not touch on in regards to strength training is the brain fitness benefits for us seniors. It turns out that two recently discovered capacities of the human brain, neurogenesis, or the daily growth of new brain cells, and neuroplasticity, which is the brain's incredible capacity to learn by connecting with other neurons, are both made stronger, like my core muscles, by physical exercise.
James Laabs (link below)
When I talk to folks over the age of 50 about strength training, the first question generally is, "It seems like a lot of work. Why should I go through the time and trouble to do strength training?" If you're looking to turn back the clock (and aren't we all?) one of the very best things you can do is strength training.
Keep more muscle, keep more strength
The saying, "use it or lose it," is especially true when it comes to losing muscle as we age. A typical person starts losing muscle mass starting around age 40, and that loss speeds up as time passes. A proven way to put the brakes on muscle loss, according to several medical studies, is to do strength training.
What's wrong with muscle loss? Plenty! Less muscle means you tire more easily and are more susceptible to injury. Strength training will give you the strength you need so can stand longer, walk further, and maintain more energy throughout the day.
More strength reduces your odds of taking a spill that will result in broken bones or other serious injury. Your body has dozens of unappreciated muscles that help your limbs react quickly when your brain tells them to. Getting these muscles into shape will increase how effectively these little muscles react, giving you better balance and faster reflexes.
One of the main reasons we get tired and have aches and pains is dwindling "core strength." Most people look at strength as having big bulging biceps. But there are all kinds of important muscles between your shoulders and hips that help you move around throughout the day. Strength training builds those muscles. After you develop more core strength you'll find that you have better balance, more stamina, improved coordination, and generally feel more physically centered.
Speaking of falling and breaking a bone, why does this happen more as people age? Like muscle, bones tend to lose their mass as we get older. The bones of a 70-year-old weigh considerably less than they did when that person was a young adult. That loss of mass makes older bones more brittle and susceptible to breaking.
The good news is that strength training not only slows muscle loss, it slows bone loss as well. The stress that strength training puts on the skeletal system is like a wake-up call, telling your body to keep those bones strong because there's still hard work to be done. Besides working out, it's also important to include the right amount of calcium in your diet; since that's the building material your body needs to answer strength training's wake-up call.
Easier weight control
One of the pleasant surprises of strength training is the jump-start that it gives your body's metabolism. When it comes to burning energy, muscle is like a powerful blast furnace while fat is like a little tiny match. After you replace some of your body's fat with muscle, you'll be surprised at how you can eat more and not put on weight. (Assuming you eat the right kinds of foods - I can tell you from personal experience that not even the strength training is a free pass to eating unlimited Twinkies!)
Lose lots of inches, not just pounds
I'm a dieting expert (having done it so many times), and there's a good chance that you are too. If you're looking to lose weight, you won't believe the awesome loss of size that can be accomplished with the combination of diet and strength training.
The secret is that, pound for pound, muscle takes up a lot less space than fat. Also, toned-up muscles are more compact than out-of-condition muscles. The combined effect of fat loss, muscle toning and muscle gain can be extraordinary, and it can happen quite quickly. When I first discovered the strength training-diet combo, I went from a 40-inch waistline to a 33-inch waistline in just ten weeks.
Wait a minute, you say! Doesn't strength training make you big and bulky? Not at all! That's one of the big misconceptions about using weights to exercise. The truth is there are many different kinds of strength training. Some people use weight lifting to bulk up, but the weight training techniques I talk about in the MADS Guide To Getting Fit & Staying Fit In Your 40s, 50s and Beyond are designed to build leaner and more compact, yet stronger muscles.
It's easy to get started
If you want to give strength training a try, one option is to join a fitness center. Many offer a trial membership of a week or two to determine if you like it. Another option is to buy some dumbbells to use at home and read a good "how to" book about strength training. Either way, give strength training a chance to help you feel and look younger.
By Jim Laabs, author of The Middle Age Doesn't Suck Guide To Getting Fit & Staying Fit In Your 40s, 50s and Beyond, First American Publishing James Laab.
For some really intriguing information about physical activity/exercise and your brain, then you should read this book, Brainfit for Life to discover more reasons for strength training past 50. It keeps your brain growing new neurons and makes rapid connections between neurons possible when those neurons are challenged by novel learning experiences, like those provided from computerized brain fitness programs.
The authors, Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D., talk about the pillars of brain fitness, and the most important is physical exercise. The other pillars are nutrition, including omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experiences which means learning a new language, a new instrument, or using a computerized brain fitness program.
I use three computerized brain fitness programs for my brain to make sure I am doing everything I can to diminish my chances for alzheimers. I really like the research on these three.
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