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Friday, June 14, 2024

Strength training is good for your mind, body and spirit

By Veita J. Bland, M.D. / April 21, 2023

Aging is one of those things few people want to experience. Unfortunately, it is one of those life events we all must go through. You age and get older, or the game is over. The trick in the game is to age in the best physical and mental shape you possibly can, or as they say, “age gracefully.”

One primary part of the graceful aging process is the maintenance of strength and balance. To achieve this, one must maintain their muscle mass. With the passage of time, we all start to lose muscle mass. Some of us begin to lose it as early as 35 years of age and this process tends to accelerate in our sixties. At this point, a person may lose as much as 3 percent of his/her muscle mass each year. Our hormones that maintain muscle mass decrease as we age. In addition, our protein consumption decreases, we tend to move less and our cells responsible for making more muscle become less responsive. Put together, these components can lead to more loss of muscle, loss of strength and the ultimate—a loss of independence.

Strength training is a fix for combatting the loss of muscle loss. It helps stimulate muscle growth and can help us use the muscles we have more efficiently. It is truly a component to achieving that elusive fountain of youth.

Sarcopenia is a word we all need to know. It is the loss of muscle mass that comes with aging. It is associated with heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, obesity and other health issues. This condition can cause a person to become physically frail and develop weakness, fatigue, slowness and a loss of muscle mass as the body simply wastes away. Simple things such as getting up, walking, getting in and out of a car, doing housework, carrying groceries into the house and living life can help prevent sarcopenia.

So, let’s prevent this condition by incorporating strength training into your daily or weekly activities. Strength training moves can be adjusted for any level of physical activity.

Silver Sneakers fitness training classes are dedicated to seniors, and they are a wonderful way to start on a strength training journey. These classes may also be seen on YouTube.

If you are brand new to exercise, a session or two with a physical therapist might be a good investment. For those with the budget, adding a personal trainer to the mix is a definite benefit. Some personal trainers have further certification to work with seniors. Seek them out.

If you have the physical ability, try to incorporate power moves by doing more repetitions or using more weight in your strength training. Experts say repetitions and/ or weight may give people better fitness results and therefore more bang for their buck. The bottom line is that we all have to move our bodies in order to remain independent. Now get out there and maintain those muscles.


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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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