Thursday, March 7, 2024

Why Strength Training Is Important As We Age

Hey, friend. Today I wanted to talk with you about the importance of strength training as you grow older. (I'll intersperse some videos from today's upper body workout in case you're interested.) 

As you know, I try to combine cardio (running, biking, hiking) with strength (resistance) training. By far, most people I know do one or the other. I try to spend equal time on both, with a similar degree of intensity. I enjoy heavy weight training. ("Heavy" is a relative term!)

I feel that both cardio and strength training are necessary for optimum fitness. I am amazed at how few doctors I've met in my lifetime who did any serious exercise themselves. I have had only one GP that had any understanding at all about me and my exercise goals. Patients are told not to overdo it, especially as they age. In my opinion, however, exercising too little is a greater problem for the aging than doing too much. 

Since I began weight training I have had no problems and I get a thorough checkup from my cardiologist twice a year. My exercise routine is actually not all that strenuous. God seems to have blessed me with a tremendous amount of energy, and exercising in this manner seems to really add to the health of my entire being. Age doesn't matter as long as we do what we really love! I am approaching 72 and am still lifting. 

And as I have aged, I've incorporated new methods to support my joints and tendons (like passive hangs). I still run, of course, but weight training is critical for strength. When we were young our hormones made allowances for our inactivity. But as we age, diet and exercise become crucial for good health. Rest and sleep help too. (I average 9-10 hours of restorative sleep every night. That is a huge blessing from the Lord!) I take probiotics and multivitamins daily, and try to maintain the calcium in my bones by getting outdoors on sunny days. Unfortunately, it is seen as normal for aging people to stop exercising altogether. But those I've seen who have never stopped being active are much happier and healthier than average. 

A lot of people confuse the consequences of never exercising with the consequences of aging. Also, strength training is more than simply "exercising." It is training for increased strength. 

It is training to combat the weakness of aging. It is training to avoid falls. It is training to continue to do what you do now when you become old. Sure, exercise is good for you, but strength training is essential for the aging person more than exercise. I am 71. I feel lean, fit, and healthy. I give credit to my daughter who invited me to watch her run the Marine Corps Half Marathon several years ago. From her I learned all about nutrition, strength, flexibility, and discipline. Running -- and now strength training -- are experiences that get better over time. The longer you do them, the more your body adapts and you enjoy the benefits into the future. 

It's not that I wasn't active before I began running. I've been farming for 25 years and we built our own house. This involved three years of repetitive lifting, pushing and pulling of wood planks, using nail guns, etc. I gradually "beefed up." But what helped me enormously was when I began to incorporate regular cardio and weight training into my weekly schedule. 

Let me close by saying that just because you've been in excellent health, never had an accident or a major disease, etc., don't be naive. Definitely keep on running, jogging, lifting, and so on, but embrace your elderhood. You're not invincible. But that's the point. As you get into advanced age, you have to be more vigilant than ever regarding your joints, muscles, and overall health. So why not give it a whirl? It's okay to try new things.

God bless and have a great day.