Why it’s imperative the elderly should lift weights
Lifting weights isn’t just for the strong, the young, or the muscular, everyone should weight-train! When people think of weightlifting, an image of a strongman may come to mind, but you don’t have to lift heavy weights to gain the many benefits of weight training. Those 3-lb and 5-lb weights that people use for warm-ups, are totally acceptable to use for a workout. The trick is to do anywhere from 15-25 repetitions, and do four sets. Give yourself 1-2 minutes rest between each set. Go slowly and really pay attention to what you’re doing.
Make sure to work each and every part of your body, not just the arms! On Mondays, I do lower-body lifting. Wednesdays I strengthen back and biceps. On Fridays, I train chest, triceps, and shoulders.
Still apprehensive? Use the machines; that way you can be seated and you don’t have to worry about losing your balance or dropping the weight.
Benefits of Lifting weights:
- Strengthens muscles & ligaments which maintain balance, which means fewer falls
- Stronger bones means a stronger heart
- Prevent or reverse osteoporosis
- Strong muscles frequently challenged lowers glucose (great for pre-diabetic/diabetics)
- Lifting weights means weight loss, lower HDL, and better blood-flow
- Weight lifting results; toned body, less flab, a more youthful appearance, feeling happy, aches and pains are lessened, or go away completely
From the list above, weight-lifting is really important, but so is daily movement. It’s rare, maybe even weird, to see an adult play hopscotch or tag, jump rope, do wheelies on a bike, run through sprinklers, swing on a swing set, or chase each other around the neighborhood (for fun). Active kids are usually agile and underweight. Older adults are typically weak, stiff and overweight, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
While I don’t jump rope anymore, since it makes me dizzy (and I hate it), I lift weights, practice yoga, stretch, walk, and make sure to move around as much as possible, which makes me feel good and look younger than my actual age (which I’m keeping secret).
Photo: Me at the gym, lifting weights to strengthen my back. Please note that you will not get big muscles from lifting light weights! My muscles only pop like this when I’m doing an exercise that really challenges me, and I tend to lift heavy weights.