The Secret to Aging Well: Get Stronger
You might think you’re too old for strength training. After all, aren’t gyms and weights for younger people? And won’t strength workouts hurt your aging joints? But the truth is, you actually need strength training more as you get older.
Numerous studies show working out helps slow down the aging process. Staying stronger doesn’t just mean more muscle tone; it also means stronger joints, better balance, more mobility, less inflammation and an even a sharper mind. Without strength training, you’ll experience age-related loss of muscle tissue – or “sarcopenia”.
Losing muscle as you age doesn’t just make you weaker.
Muscle loss can also impair posture and balance, and increase not only the risk of falls but also the risk of being injured when you fall. A 2015 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research report found people with sarcopenia had 2.3 times the risk of suffering low-trauma fractures from falls.
Left unchecked, sarcopenia leads to increased risk of age-related disability and higher mortality rates. Sarcopenia can start at 30 and it accelerates over time. By the time you’re 50, you can be losing 1% of your muscle mass every year. By the time you’re 80, you might have only half the muscle mass you had at 25.
But that won’t happen if you train for strength.
The earlier you start the better, but it’s never too late. At any age, strength training can halt sarcopenia and reverse some of its effects. If you don’t start until your sixties, you’re unlikely to regain the strength you had in your twenties. But you may end up with a stronger, more toned body than most 45-year olds.
And the benefits don’t stop there.
A 2016 Harvard Medical School and the National Institutes of Health report published the results from tracking almost 36,000 older women (aged 47-98) for a decade. The researchers controlled for other variables, such as physical activity, diet and age. They found that women who did strength training had a 30% lower Type 2 diabetes risk and 17% lower cardiovascular disease risk than the other women. Other studies have linked strength training to improved balance; enhanced posture and less back pain; improved brain function; lower levels of depression and anxiety; and better sleep.
The research is clear. Strength training substantially boosts older people’s health and quality of life. Whether you use calisthenics, a traditional gym or our time-efficient Katalyst system, surely you can fit exercise into your life. It’s never too late to muscle up.