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Strength training for over 50?

Are you one of the ladies nearly 50 and is either frantically worried about the fact that you do not get enough exercise and frantically worried that you do the right type of exercise to help you getting older and wiser more easily.

We can now confirm with you that strength training can assist in reducing the risk of Sarcopenia, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, iron-deficiency anaemia, and arthritis.   This ticks the box for both scenario questions above. The answer to both is easy – our group of 50 and above need strength training and I would like to share with you the health benefits associated with strength training.  Let me spell out some conditions and the benefit  of strength training connected with that condition.

Some of the medical conditions associated with age, inactivity.

1.            Sarcopenia

Sarcopenia - muscle loss due to aging

Sarcopenia – muscle loss due to aging

Sarcopenia is the medical term used to describe age-related muscle loss, a very commen occurrence.  This starts form about the age of 30, and on average we lose about 10 per cent of our lean muscles every 10 years.  From the age of 60 this increases to 15 per cent every 10 years, then to 30 per cent every 10 years thereafter.   The actual amount of muscles we lose will differ depending on our activity level and health.

This muscle loss leads to a reduction of our metabolic rate, which means that kilojoules that we were preciously able to burn up by our muscles are stored as body fat, and this leads to weight gain.

My mother- in- law falls in this age group and experienced some of these symptoms above. Her words: ‘’ My goodness Melissa, it all makes sense now, it was never the washing powder shrinking the clothes!” She was fascinated to hear that this loss of muscle robs us of our functional health, independence and mobility, and further forces us into unhealthy and inactive lifestyles.  This problem eventually pushes us into other lifestyle diseases such as high-blood pressure, diabetes and heart diseases.

This is a scary thought! Naturally this is very scary to any-one, but it does not have to be this way.  Sarcopenia is reversible, and can be managed and minimised by exercise and strength training.  Strength training is proven way to increase muscle size and strength.  So by increasing lean muscles you will speed up your metabolic rate, increase your mobility and independence.  This will lead to a longer, more independent and better quality life.  My mum – in law took this good news to heart and is now on a weekly base in the Concept 10 10 exercise room doing her strength training. Between you and me, she actually gets a bit cranky if there is a remote possibility that she may miss a session.

2.            Type 2 Diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is usefully described as a “lifestyle disease” because it most commonly affects those who are overweight and inactive.  It can also occur in those who have poor diets.   Type 2 diabetes occurs when the cells in your body don’t respond to insulin (a sugar-lowering substance) properly or the pancreas produces insufficient levels of insulin to meet the body’s demand.  This lead to a build-up of glucose (sugar) in the blood stream.

Unfortunately, developing this disease can lead to multiple other health conditions and diseases.  To reduce the risk of developing this disease it is important to eat healthy, reduce your sugar intake, participate in regular physical activity and maintain a healthy weight.

3.            Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease of bone in which the bone mineral density is decreased.  This unfortunately increases the risk of bone fracture and breaks.  Osteporosis is more prevalent in female, especially after menopause, but can also affect females and male of any age.

Once Calcium is lost form the bone it is difficult to replace.  However, changing your diet and increasing calcium, fluoride, Vita D and strength training will assist in reducing your risk of developing the diseases or your progression of the condition.  Calcium can be found dairy products such as milk, cheeses and yogurts.  Vitamin D is essential for your body to be able to absorb calcium.  Thankfully Vit D is free and comes from the sun.  Spend at least 10 mins a day outside and this will help your body absorb calcium and strengthen your bones.

4.            Arthiritis

Arthritis is a term used to describe more than 100 diseases, with the most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Arthritis is characterised by pain, swelling, heat, redness and reduced movement of a joint. It can affect anyone of any age.

Osteoarthritis arises when the cartilage that coats the ends of the bones breaks down.  As the cartilage break down the uncoated bones rub together, causing fiction and resulting in pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of the joint’s capsule known as the synovial tissue.  This leads to deformation of the joint as the surrounding joint tissue becomes damaged.  This condition can develop at any to. But it is predominant with age groups 25 to 60 years.

Many people believe that they shouldn’t exercise when they have pain due to arthiritis.  But no matter how severe your arthritis is you should exercise regularly.  Strength training is essential in reducing joint stress, as it helps with building up the muscles around the joint.  Gentle, regular stretching is also crucial for the prevention of your range of movement.

There is unfortunately no cure for arthritis, but you can be proactive, protect your joints and reduce the symptoms from worsening by keeping active and following a balanced workout plan.

It is clear from the above, that there are definite health benefits for our older generation females to be involved in strength training. Come on girls, it may sound like a lot of work and pain, but it can be good fun and you will reap the fruits of this. I promise!

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