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Preventing Age-Related Changes through Resistance Training

Preventing Age-Related Changes through Resistance TrainingPosted on October 14, 2013

Weight-Lifting-ExerciseBy Cari Kelly, PT, DPT

Few people will argue with the statement that being physically active and exercising is good for your body and overall health. However, what kind of exercise is best for you, now and in the future?


Recent studies have paid particular interest to answering these questions.

As we age, our bodies go through a series of chemical and physical changes – we lose bone mineral density, gain central body fat, our body mass increases and, and we lose skeletal muscle. Recent studies suggest that this loss of skeletal muscle may be a major factor in contributing to decreased strength, decreased energy, decreased physical activity, disability and loss of independence as we get older.

What can we do to help prevent this loss of skeletal muscle and other effects of the aging process?  Current evidence suggests that maintaining high and/or increasing overall physical activity over time prevents these adverse age related body composition changes. One such study by Hankinson (2010) studied women over a 20 year period and found that exercise does not only have short term benefits, but long term as well. In fact, long term physical activity has been found to improve body mass density and muscle mass and reduces weight gain, particularly central body fat.

What kind of physical activity is best to help make these changes?  The answer depends on your age.

Older individuals benefit most significantly from a regimen of resistance exercise. Peterson (2011) compiled multiple studies on resistance exercise. Compared to other forms of exercises, These studies showed that resistance training results in an increased lean body mass. The higher the dose of resistance training, the greater the lean muscle your body produces. Lean muscle makes your body more metabolically active. It reduces your the risk for cardiovascular and metabolic bone disease (osteoporosis), and the risk for falls, thus helping to prevent the negative sequela of the aging process on your musculoskeletal system.  In contrast, younger adults benefit most by a combination of aerobic and resistance training.

Not sure where to start with a resistance training program?  Consider consulting with one of our physical therapists, our personal trainer, Rick Wemple, or attending one of our fitness classes.  Classes are limited to 6 participants and pay attention to achieving optimal form for best results.