By freelance writer Jane Lester
Obesity rates have increased among most age groups in the U.S., but the sharpest rise has been among people aged 65 and over. Because obesity significantly increases the risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer, it is vital for seniors to stay at a healthy weight, considering that age is a risk factor in itself for some diseases. Regular activity is one way to burn calories and fat, but if you really want to optimize your workout time, weight training is also key.
Weights and a sound diet equal success
Doctors generally recommend consuming a healthy diet and working out for half an hour a day. However, a recent study by researchers at Wake Forest University found that adults in their 60s who worked out using weights machines had less muscle loss but significant fat loss, compared to those who walked and dieted, or those who merely dieted. “Surprisingly, we found that cardio workouts may actually cause older adults with obesity to lose more lean mass than dieting alone,” said the researchers, adding that the results are even more significant for seniors who tend to lose and regain weight repeatedly since seniors don’t typically regain muscle; they regain fat.
Why do seniors need strong muscles?
Having strong muscles is vital for bone strength, balance, and carrying out daily tasks such as carrying groceries. Muscle strengthening has also been found to help manage blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol levels. It also prevents and controls diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease. A 2016 study carried out a Penn State College of Medicine found that older adults who met twice-weekly strength training recommendations had a lower risk of death. It is important to remember that from the time we hit the age of 30, we start to lose 3% to 5% of our muscle mass. Luckily, we can build strong, healthy muscles by working out regularly using free weights or machines.
Where to begin?
Before commencing any new type of workout, see your doctor and receive a personalized recommendation. A qualified personal trainer will be able to provide you with a workout in line with these recommendations and your fitness level. Usually, you will complete one or more sets of 8 to 12 repetitions of exercise targeted at muscles in your core, as well as your upper and lower body. As you progress, your trainer will usually recommend increasing repetitions and increasing weight or resistance. These may include knee extensions, hip flexor exercises, partial squats, and calf raises For the upper body, you might try exercises such as bicep curls, tricep exercises, shoulder lifts, and back strengthening machine exercises.
Cardio was once King when it came to workouts but clearly, research is pointing to the importance of weight training for disease prevention and longevity. Get advice from trained professionals and ease into your new workout regime slowly, remembering to balance strength workouts with aerobics too boost your heart health and enhance fat burning.
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