If you’ve never lifted weights, or haven’t been to a gym in quite some time, you might find it odd that many adults over 60 are now picking up the practice. But research shows that lifting weights can actually lead to healthier, happier aging in several important ways.
Replacing lost muscle mass. By our early forties, we’re already losing muscle mass at a rate of about 5 percent per decade. And because muscle mass is related to metabolism, lost muscle tissue contributes to slowed metabolism as we age.
But that’s not an inevitability that you have to accept! Those who begin a strength training regimen at any age can replace some of this lost muscle mass. You will feel stronger and enjoy a boosted metabolism as a result.
Build denser bones. Weight lifting isn’t all about building bigger muscles, either. It also contributes to healthier bones by increasing their density. Since we tend to lose bone mass at a rate of 1 percent per year after age 40, aging makes us more prone to fractures and breaks (even after minor falls and other accidents). Osteoporosis, too, is another concern.
Numerous studies have shown that lifting weights can slow the rate of bone density loss, and some even demonstrate a reversal of the problem! So not only will a weight training program help you increase muscle mass; it can protect and repair your bones as well.
Improve your mood. We know that any form of exercise is beneficial for mood, and weight training is no different. Studies have shown that lifting weights at least once per week boosts emotional health and leads to greater confidence in all areas of life.
Those are just the health benefits. You might also find that attending the gym regularly keeps you active, helps you make new friends, and encourages you to organize a daily schedule that includes outings. And of course, you’ll enjoy feeling stronger and more capable of completing daily tasks.
So, give weight lifting a try, but do consult your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen. Working with a personal trainer, at least for a few sessions, can help you learn the appropriate techniques and amount of weight to use, so that weight lifting can become a safe and enjoyable activity for you.