How Lifting Weights Can Keep You Young

Science says we should continue strength training as we age

It’s no secret that exercising is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy and in shape.

And for most, along with improved overall wellbeing, longevity is a benefit that science continues to associate with exercise, too.

Recent research has linked physical activity with maintaining both a body and mind that functions more like a young person’s. Plus, some science has shown that when it comes to premature death, a lack of exercise may put you more at risk than being obese.

In other words, exercise is essential to good health, and especially as we age. Later in life, bone and muscle mass tends to decrease, flexibility starts to diminish and balance and agility are sometimes compromised.

Strength training has long been touted as an effective way for older adults to help prevent such side effects, and results from a recent study conducted by researchers at the MedUni Vienna help to support this recommendation.

According to Science Daily, the goal of the study was to improve the fitness levels and quality of life for older people with inadequate nutrition.

According to the study’s authors, about ten percent of Austrians over the age of 65 are “frail” and another 40 percent are in the initial stages of “frailty.”

What the results of the study found, though, is that regular strength training can increase strength in older adults and, as a result, enables them to live more independently.

“We know that muscle mass decreases from the age of 30. Without training, around 50 per cent of muscle mass has deteriorated by the age of 80,” Thomas Dorner of the MedUni Vienna's Centre for Public Health told Science Daily. “In this study, the intervention group boosted their maximum hand strength by three kilograms. That is an increase of almost 20 percent on the initial measurements.”

The results of the study, which involved volunteers over the age of 50 paying weekly visits to older people’s homes for strength training sessions, will be presented at an upcoming conference as part of the Healthy for Life Project.

The researchers also found that strength training led to a significant increase in the participant’s overall physical activity levels, mobility, quality of life and cognitive functions.

They concluded that the increase in physical activity across the board was not only a result of a reduced risk for falling, but also a reduction in the fear of falling, which Dorner said typically causes older adults to avoid exercise.

Of course, this study only focused on a small population of older adults in Austria, but the results would likely translate across the board, meaning strength training is an important aspect of exercise all through life and especially as we get older. 

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