Training for the Elderly
Weight training is not just for the aspiring body builder.
It may surprise you to learn that weight training is actually an appropriate and
beneficial form of exercising for older adults. As we age, our bodies experience
physical and physiological changes. Weight training for the elderly can mediate
those changes so that older adults can remain active and mentally sharp well
into their aging years.
With age, muscles lose their mass and strength. Joints
become stiffer and can even develop arthritis in them making it painful and
difficult to move them. Sense of balance can be thrown off kilter causing falls
and the breaking of hips and many times the need for long hospitalizations. Skin
loses much of its suppleness which results in skin that just hangs, usually
downwards, on the body. Immune systems become weaker making the elderly more
susceptible to serious illnesses. Concentration and memory also become harder as
we get older.
Elderly persons who do not exercise at all are at high risk
for becoming immobile and requiring long term care such as in a nursing facility
earlier, and at far higher rates than elderly people who do exercise. Weight
training for the elderly can slow the progression of the natural effects of
aging, and even thwart the development of such conditions as dementia. Weight
training for the elderly brought to elderly residents in nursing homes has also
been shown to help those who have lost mobility to regain some movement and even
improve mental functioning. If you work with the elderly in a nursing home
setting, consider bringing the benefits of weight training to them.
Weight training for the elderly puts back muscle mass and
strength that has been lost. Muscle strength not only aids movement but also
aids balance, so strong muscles will prevent many of the falls and injuries that
cause the elderly to be hospitalized and immobile for long periods, if not
permanently. Weight training will keep joints limber which reduces the stiffness
and pain that causes many people to become inactive.
Weight training for the elderly strengthens the immune
system helping them to avoid many illnesses and the expensive doctor visits and
prescription medications needed to treat illnesses. It is well known that after
the age of 50 is when many of the diseases that can cut a life short develop. By strengthening the immune system through weight training, the elderly
not only build their resistance to illnesses, but they will also have the
internal strength the body needs to battle more serious diseases.
Weight training for the elderly renews much of the
suppleness to the skin that aging can take away. Skin will be tighter with less hanging on the body which can
also help the elderly to feel more comfortable with their bodies.
Studies have shown the elderly to be at a higher risk for
the development of depression and other mental disorders than younger adults. What are the physiological benefits to weight training for the elderly?
Weight training helps the body to manufacture greater amounts of hormones which
are naturally made by the body. These hormones help the organs and systems of
the body including the brain to do the work they do. Hormones help the brain
with processes such as cognitive thought and memory, and hormones hugely
contribute to how we feel and respond to different things. Elderly persons who
exercise such as with weight training report depressed feelings less often than
those who do not exercise.
It is recommended that any weight training for the
elderly program be guided by the expertise of a certified personal trainer.