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The Importance of Strength Training for Over 50s

Strength training is an important component of any balanced fitness program, but it is frequently ignored in the over 50s age group in favour of cardiovascular exercises. However, strength training is important to sustain overall health and vitality in the over 50s (Strength Training For Over 50s).

Because chiropractics incorporate a holistic view of healthcare, chiropractors understand the importance of maintaining muscle strength and joint flexibility into your 60s and beyond. As part of our chiropractic care program, we provide help and advice for those over 50s planning strength training.

In this article, we discuss the many benefits of strength training for the over 50s group. We also outline several key exercises for the over 50s.

Why Is Strength Training Important For The Over 50s?

Age-related research has identified a gradual decline in both muscle mass (Age-Related Decline In Skeletal Muscle Mass) and bone density (Age-Related Decline In Bone Mass) around the age of 50.

More significantly, there appears to be a decline in the number and quality of muscle fibres (Aging And Muscle Loss). This natural decline can be accompanied by joint stiffness and a slower metabolism. If left unaddressed, these changes can make everyday activities challenging.

A well-structured strength training program can oppose this decline (Strength Training Reduces Age-Related Physical Decline). In most cases, strength training helps maintain muscle, improves bone health, and sustains joint flexibility.

In addition, strength training boosts metabolic rate, potentially helping with weight management. The health and lifestyle changes associated with strength training also promote mental health, helping to combat depression and prevent age-related cognitive decline.

Importantly, the benefits of strength training can be experienced by everyone in the over 50s age group (Strength Training Advice For Over 50s).

Essential Exercises For Strength Training Over The Age Of 50

To optimise the health benefits of an over 50s exercise program, various different strength training exercises should be performed (Building Muscle After 50). These exercises can also be adapted specifically for women (Strength Training For Women Over 50).

Below, we list several key exercises recommended for those aged over 50. To build muscles and strength while avoiding injury, aim to complete 5–15 repeats (fewer may be performed at the start of the program).

Forearm Plank

Hold a plank position from your forearms for 20–30 seconds (ensure your body forms a straight line from shoulders to ankles).

This exercise strengthens the core, shoulders, and arms.

Modified Push-Up

Perform a push-up while on your knees (kneeling reduces the strain on your lower back and shoulders).

This exercise builds upper body strength (chest, shoulders, and triceps).

Basic Squat

Squat down as if sitting in a chair (keeping your feet hip-width apart). To protect your joints, keep your knees behind your toes.

This exercise is used to strengthen the legs, hips, and buttocks.

Shoulder Press

Lift dumbbells from shoulder height to above your head. This exercise can be performed seated or standing.

This exercise works the shoulders and upper arms.

Single Leg Hamstring Bridge

Lie on your back with one foot on a bench and the other extended into the air. Lift your hips to create a straight line from the knee to the shoulders.

This exercise focuses on the hamstrings and glutes.

Stability Ball Chest Fly

Lie on a stability ball with your upper back supported. Perform a chest fly with dumbbells (extend your arms out to the sides and then bring them together above your chest).

This exercise targets the chest, shoulders, and arms.

Stability Ball Triceps Kickback

Lean forward slightly with one knee and hand on the stability ball, holding a dumbbell in the other hand. Extend the arm back until it is straight, then return to the starting position.

This exercise targets the triceps.

Stability Ball Pull-Over

Lying on a stability ball, perform a pull-over with a dumbbell.

This exercise strengthens the back, shoulders, and arms.

Stability Ball Side Leg Lift

Lying on your side, either on a mat or supported by a stability ball, lift your top leg up and down (keep your hips stacked).

This exercise targets the hips and outer thighs.

Ideally, consult a professional for a program that focuses on improving your overall strength and mobility, while accommodating any physical limitations.

The Benefits Of Strength Training For The Over 50s

Fitness Benefits

Muscle Building

Strength training combats muscle loss.

Muscle Cell Revitalisation

Strength training promotes muscle growth and repair.

Increased Bone Density

Strength training gently stresses bones, increasing bone density. This ultimately reduces the risk of fractures.

A Reduction In Physical Discomfort

Each strength exercise is designed to promote the movement of a specific joint. This reduces the incidence of chronic pain in that joint.

Reversal Of Physical Frailty

The risk of falls and injuries can be reduced by building up muscle strength and joint stability.

Fat Reduction

Regular strength training helps to reduce body fat.

General Health Benefits

A Recharged Metabolism

Strength training enhances metabolic rate by increasing muscle mass.

Resistance To Diabetes

Regular exercise helps regulate blood sugar levels, and it may improve insulin sensitivity.

An Improved Blood Lipid Profile

Strength training improves cholesterol levels and overall cardiovascular health.

A Reduction In Resting Blood Pressure

Regular exercise lowers blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease.

Enhanced Coronary Performance

Strength training can be an effective component in the rehabilitation of patients recovering from heart problems.

Better Mental Health

Strength training releases endorphins. Regular exercise can help alleviate depression and anxiety.

Improved Systemic Immunity And Protection Against Cancer

Regular exercise improves the immune system and this can help protect against some cancers.

Overcoming Common Barriers And Challenges To Maintaining An Exercise Program

Maintaining a strength training program can be difficult for even the most determined.

Tips To Help You Stick To Your Program

  • Choose a regular time each week when you expect to feel the most energetic.
  • Keep a schedule and mark off each session when complete.
  • Ask friends and family for support.
  • Start sensibly. Gradually increase the weight and number of repetitions as you progress.

Safety Considerations And Injury Prevention

Consult the experts

Over 50s may benefit from consulting a trusted healthcare expert before commencing strength training (chiropractors can help here). A short preparatory program may be required to help increase the range of motion in stiff joints.

To avoid injury during strength training, take a few introductory sessions with a trainer to learn the correct techniques.

Use A Warm-Up Routine

To prevent an injury, begin every strength training session with a warm-up routine. A good warm-up routine should include stretches and some light cardiovascular exercise.

Build up Gradually

Increase your exercise load gradually to prevent an injury.

Stop exercising immediately if you feel a sharp pain in the muscle. Also, be careful exercising through joint pain. While it is normal to experience muscle soreness (up to a few days after exercise), see your healthcare provider if the discomfort is severe or does not resolve itself after resting.

Conclusion: Strength Training for Over 50s

Strength training can be a safe and rewarding activity for almost everyone in the over 50s age group.

A good strength training program can help to maintain health and vitality into the 60s and beyond.

James Barber

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