If you’re over 50 and don’t practice full body resistance training exercises at least twice per week, you need to start. Now.
Lifting weights prevents and can even reverse sarcopenia. With regular resistance training — whether with machines, dumbbells, bands or bodyweight — your body adapts to the neuromuscular demands by becoming stronger. As your strength increases you’ll need to periodically up the resistance, do more repetitions or sets, switch from bodyweight to a method providing extra resistance, or work out more often. This will help you avoid plateauing and keep your workout interesting.
Pondering whether to take the plunge?
Here are 6 reasons you need to start lifting weights now
1. Strength Training can help you manage stress better
Chronic stress increases levels of the hormone cortisol, which over time causes your body to store more calories as fat and contributes to overeating. But resistance training releases endorphins – your feel-good hormones – into your system, actually helping to counter chronic stress. After a weight lifting session you’ll have more energy. You’ll probably sleep better, continuing the positive energy cycle into the following day. Strength training has also shown promising results in treating clinical depression, anxiety and mood swings, making it essential for women experiencing the hormonal roller coaster ride known as menopause.
2. It’s the key to maintaining weight loss
You might be better able to control cravings, too: following a strength training session, your appetite actually decreases, thanks to a rise in the appetite-controlling hormone Peptide YY.
3. You’ll be able to live an independent life longer
When sarcopenia sets in, your mobility, strength, balance and metabolism can all be affected. For many older people this gradual loss of muscle leads to falls, loss of independence and even death. Regular resistance training gives you the endurance and strength to make daily tasks like getting out of a car, carrying your groceries, climbing stairs or picking up a child easier to do safely. A stronger body means a longer, more independent life.
4. You’ll improve your sex life
Sarcopenia doesn’t spare any muscles: our pelvic floor muscle group, the ones that contract during orgasm, atrophy with age if not exercised just like any other muscles. Pelvic floor exercises should be included in your routine to keep those important muscles functioning properly.
5. You can delay or prevent many chronic diseases
This one should come as no surprise. Heart disease, cancer, strokes, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and many other common but potentially deadly diseases can be prevented with a regular, balanced exercise program.