Strength training not just for young

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Strength training isn't just for young people, says Nina Chen, a University of Missouri Extension human development specialist.

"Studies show that strength exercises are effective whether you are 30 or 85," said Chen.

Muscle mass diminishes as individuals age. This can lead to injuries and balance problems and leave older adults without the strength for everyday activities such as climbing stairs and carrying groceries. But strength training can help slow this process, Chen said.

Research at Tufts University reveals the following benefits from regular strength training:

* Reduced arthritis pain and stiffness, and increased flexibility and strength.

*Reduced risk of falls and better balance.

* Increased metabolism - as much as 15 percent, which is enormously helpful for weight loss and long-term weight control.

* Increased bone density, which prevents osteoporosis.

* Reduced risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

* Increased ability to do everyday tasks.

* Increased self-confidence and sense of well-being with a healthy state of mind.

* Improved sleep.

Strength training doesn't have to involve heavy weights and strenuous exertion. Strength-building exercises for older adults typically involve gentle bends and stretches, sometimes with one- to three-pound hand weights.

"No matter how old we are, we don't have to get weaker with age," Chen said.

Individuals who would like to start doing strength training, should consult with their physician first. Individuals can also contact the local University of Missouri Extension Center to find out about strength-training classes in the area.

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