Strength Training Can Improve Quality of Life for The Older Population

This month, we have a triple-play on the health awareness front: May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, Older Americans Month, AND Arthritis Awareness Month. That’s a lot to be aware of, but there’s a link to be found between all of them—starting a strength training regimen can improve quality of life and the health outlook for older folks by helping them prevent the effects of both osteoporosis and arthritis.

We already know that we lose muscle mass as we age. Strength training is the only ways to actually rebuild muscle mass that has been lost, making strength training an excellent exercise regimen for folks as they age. But strength training can also actually help combat the pain of both arthritis and osteoporosis.

In 1994, Tufts University Diet and Nutrition Letter published a study on sensible strength training that reduced the pain of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. According to the Tufts University strength-training program website, “The results of this sixteen-week program showed that strength training decreased pain by 43%, increased muscle strength and general physical performance, improved the clinical signs and symptoms of the disease, and decreased disability. The effectiveness of strength training to ease the pain of osteoarthritis was just as potent, if not more potent, as medications. Similar effects of strength training have been seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.”

Osteoporosis, or the loss of bone mass, can also actually be reversed through strength training. “Post-menopausal women can lose 1-2% of their bone mass annually. Results from a study conducted at Tufts University, which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1994, showed that strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk for fractures among women aged 50-70.”

There are other practical benefits to strength training for folks as they age as well. Strength training, when performed throughout the full range of motion, helps stabilize folks and improve their balance as their muscles get stronger. This reduces the risk of falls, which cause debilitating injuries and sometimes fatal complications amongst the older populace.

To start a strength training regimen, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor to ensure that you are healthy enough for exercise, and to partner up with a qualified personal trainer. A trainer understands your individual needs as you age, and can help you plan a regimen that is safe first and foremost, as well as effective.

To learn more about beginning a strength training regimen and improve quality of life, I suggest a book by Wayne Wescott, PhD, Strength Training Past 50, for a complimentary First Session at Vertex Fitness Click HERE or give us a call at 610 525 6604 to schedule your session.

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