We all know that it is important to exercise, but what a lot of people don’t know is what type of exercise they should be doing. Whilst your 30 minute walk in the early evening is a great start to building the habit of regular exercise and is improving your health, it is still not enough. When people step foot in the gym, many take one look over at the weights section and then nervously avoid it whilst heading over to the treadmills. DON’T DO THIS! Exercising with weights is an important aspect of life-long physical activity, and it will help you live a longer healthier life.
Researchers are finding that those who participate in regular resistance exercise live longer, there are many reasons why this could occur and it is especially important as we age. As we get older we naturally start to lose muscle mass (about 5% every 10 years after the age of 35).
The benefits of resistance training are as follows:
Makes you more capable of functional activities and reduces the likelihood of falls. If you come across a situation that challenges your strength or balance too much, it will remain very difficult to stay upright, therefore if you are stronger you will be able to perform daily tasks with less of a chance of falls that could result in major and life threatening injuries.
Helps regulate blood sugar levels better. Muscle tissue allows us to store sugar floating around in our blood stream, whilst resistance training itself can actually help us to regulate blood sugar levels more effectively (this is stored in the form of glycogen and is used as an energy source during resistance training). This is important as most people age, they have a tendency to become more sedentary, predisposing themselves to conditions such as type 2 diabetes. Resistance training and getting stronger is evidently a great way to reduce the risk of this occurring.
There is also increasing evidence that resistance training could be effective for reducing the likelihood of developing dementia. Those who have performed regular resistance exercise have been found to perform better on memory and cognitive function tests. This amazing new information shows that the positive effects of resistance training on an aging population go beyond simply the physical aspects that we can see.
And finally losing weight, losing muscle mass is the number one reason why your metabolism drops. Resistance training is the best way to improve metabolism. So if you want to lose weight, the best way is to include resistance training into your exercise routine
Now you are thinking ‘great I’d love to start doing resistance exercise, but I have no idea how’. Well lucky for you here are some guidelines to get you started:
• Perform resistance exercise a minimum 2-3 times per week
• Make sure you perform exercises for both the upper and lower body
• Try and incorporate functional strengthening exercises (I.e: squats) or progressed/regressed versions of these
• Try starting out doing 2-3 sets of every exercise for 8-12 repetitions and slowly progress over time in either amount of reps per set, amount of sets or load used.
Now that you have some of the basic principals in place, go forth and start working towards a stronger, healthier and overall more resilient you. For any further information regarding how resistance exercise can help you to age well, don’t hesitate to contact one of our friendly Accredited Exercise Physiologists.