Weight 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.