Yet another study has come out praising the benefits of weight training for those over the age of 65 (and anyone whose physiological age equates to 65 — a.k.a. people who spend their week slumped over a desk).
Here’s a quick summary of the study: Weight training is good. You should do it. Weight training is good.
For those that require a little more substance, the study published in the journal Preventative Medicine tracked 30,162 adults aged 65 and older for 15 years. Of the group, about 2,900 were weight trainers.
Even after factoring in medical history and health behaviours, the iron pumpers were able to reduce their risk of premature death by 46 percent. That’s a pretty good return for a few bicep curls and a push-up or two.
Weight training is good.
Even better, the weight trainers in the study weren’t even hard-core, seven-day-a-week, weight-belt-wearing knuckle draggers. Participants worked out twice weekly, which took up less than two percent of their busy schedule — the equivalent of a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory.
In addition to enhancing the quality and quantity of life, it was reported that lifting weights decreases the risk of cardiac death by 41 percent, also reducing the risk of cancer death. As Kevin O’Leary would say: “Stop the madness! Where do I sign up?!”
Oh, but I can’t weight train because (enter flimsy excuse here).
Common excuses for non-participation have mostly been classified by researchers as a great reason to weight train. Excuse: “I can’t weight train because I have sore joints.” Research: “To help sore joints, consider weight training.”
Sure, there are some valid “get-out-of-gym notes” floating around out there. For the purpose of this discussion, those people are excused. But the rest should lace up their sneakers.
Just be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking you’re physically active when in truth you’re just busy. According to a 2011 poll by Consumer Reports Health, this type of delusional thinking has convinced 90 percent of Americans that they eat a healthy diet (apparently a diet rich in vegetables, legumes and nuts leads to obesity — go figure).
Attending a fitness class doesn’t mean you are getting fit — especially the ones where talking takes precedence over working. Sitting on a bike and moving the pedals doesn’t mean your muscles are being challenged. Poking around the garden doesn’t mean you are getting stronger.
Don’t get me wrong, these activities are wonderful and produce many benefits, but they may not be meeting the criteria required for the type of muscle growth cited in the study. Participation, while awesome, doesn’t necessarily translate into strength.
Let’s be honest, weight training is going to be a bit of work. The good news is, it doesn’t have to take up much time. Performing the right exercises with proper form and weight can be accomplished in 20 minutes. And, according to the research mentioned earlier, you only have to do it twice a week to achieve the desired effect.
Go to the aquafit class, but visit the weight room for a few sets afterward. Take your bike out for a ride followed by a few bodyweight exercises in the park or at home. Tend the garden followed by a session with your trainer.
Whatever you do, challenge your muscles. Maybe not in the first few weeks or even months. Turning up the heat slowly is the best approach. With the proper instruction, it’s normal to spend six months getting used to a new exercise routine. Rush the process and you may find yourself injured, frustrated or on the couch watching The Big Bang Theory.
Want to enhance your golden years? Listen to science and start pushing some weight. Find a knowledgeable, sympathetic ear to get you started and double down on your quality of life.
Weight training is good.