Stay strong at any age with resistance training
What if I told you there was a magic pill with close to zero side effects that you could take to combat all the limitations you experience with natural aging? Would you take it? Oh, and by the way, it’s free.
As we age, our bodies naturally experience a decrease in muscle mass, strength, balance, and our ability to move feels much more restricted. We begin to become more “frail” as our bone mineral density decreases and we do less movement. Our ability to perform the activities that we grew up loving becomes harder to complete. We begin to lose our independence and rely more on others.
Resistance training, also known as strength training, is a magic pill to combat these limitations that often come with aging. Resistance training improves mobility, balance, strength, and it increases independence with daily activities. It also has a remarkable impact on mental health and well-being.
One of the biggest benefits from resistance training is that it makes people more resilient. It decreases your vulnerability to catastrophic events. Instead of breaking a bone when you fall, you may just have a bruise. And if you do fall, you will be more confident in your ability to stand back up on your own without needing assistance.
If you are experiencing pain, strength training is going to be one of the first steps to take at our physical therapy clinic. We often see that pain and muscle weakness go hand in hand. And when we strengthen the body, the body reacts with a decrease in pain. If you have been looking for that magic joint supplement to improve pain and help you move better, look no further.
If we know that strength training is so crucial, then why don’t we all do more of it? Here are the most common myths that we hear as reasons why people don’t do it.
First, many people think that heavy lifting and exerting themselves can increase the risk of injury. “I don’t want to hurt my back by lifting weights off the ground,” is a common refrain.
Strength training actually does the opposite. It prepares muscles to lift heavy when you need to use them outside of the gym. If you don’t prepare the muscles for heavy lifting, when you actually need to lift something heavy, it can increase the risk of injury.
Second, people think that special equipment is needed to resistance train, but that is not the case. Resistance training does not have to be done at a gym. It can be adapted for everyone based off the equipment you have access to at home. While having access to weights makes it easier to progress and gives you more exercise, you can start at home with little to nothing.
Third, people think that they don’t have time for it. Let me tell you this: You do have the time for it. It just comes down to prioritizing what is important. If you prioritize your health and want to continue to do what you love for many years to come, strength training should be an integral part of your daily routine.
For those wondering how to get started, it helps to know that almost every gym has trained staff available to guide those who need personal attention. Gyms and senior centers also offer small group sessions, which is a great way to get involved with the community and learn more about strength training.
If you don’t want to leave the comfort of your home, start with these three exercises:
1. Sit to Stand: Stand up from a chair. 2-3 sets of 5-15 reps. Increase intensity by holding some weights or something heavy from around the house while you sit up and down.
2. Deadlifts: Pick up something moderately heavy from the ground for 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps. Progress from this by picking up a heavier object.
3. Presses: Hold a weight or object at shoulder height. Then press that weight over your head for 2-3 sets of 5-15 reps.
Making the commitment to strength train twice a week allows you to take advantage of all the benefits that come with regular exercise.
Dr. Matthew Ryan Shiver, PT, DPT, CSCS, is with Made2Move Health and Human Performance, a physical therapy and movement specialist clinic on Daniel Island that serves to improve the health and longevity of its clients through education and movement.