4 Benefits Of Strength Training For Your Healthy Life Years
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The 4 Benefits of Strength Training to Help Improve Your Healthy Life Years

Restriction band training to build muscles in elders

In the clinic, part of what we do is help people get stronger. We do this by creating a precise plan to address an injury or any pain you’re experiencing.

We create a plan so individuals can recover and improve their ability to get back to their favorite activities or sometimes to improve their ability to physically tolerate their work or tasks required of them. 

Have you ever wondered:

At what point does age become a barrier to gaining strength?

How much strength is needed to feel good?

How quickly do you lose strength if you stop exercising or assume a sedentary lifestyle?

These are great questions that a lot of people we know ask themselves when thinking about physical therapy and strength training.

Making the most of strength training is key to keeping on top of a healthy lifestyle.

Most people recognize that strength is important, but figuring out how to build strength in a well rounded and healthy way can be a challenge. There is always a new fitness fad touting their “ground-breaking” exercise equipment that gets you ripped and strong in 5 minutes a day. This usually sounds too good to be true, and that’s because it is.

So let’s get some facts straight.

This article is a 2 part series (stay tuned for the 2nd part coming soon) – the first part here will explore the latest research and look into the full benefits of strength training. We’ll also be looking into the full value you can receive from committing yourself to getting stronger and through the likes of resistance training. 

The second part will be an article focused on understanding how to customize your very own, personalized strength program.

Did you know that starting from the age of 30, sedentary adults lose roughly 3-8% of muscle mass? At the age of 50, that number increases to 5-10 percent. 

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Aging and Muscle Mass

walking in the park after building strength

There is a direct correlation between decrease in strength and decrease in functionality, whether that’s be getting up and down from a chair, being able to play with your grandchildren, going out in the yard, or sticking with that sport that you love to do.

Muscle mass in general also really plays a role in how our body functions. Muscle mass is VITAL for metabolic processes, which is how our body and organs convert substance into energy. 

Muscle and Diabetes

The less muscle mass you have, the more likely you are to develop glucose intolerance, which can in turn ultimately lead to Type II Diabetes. Strength training will not only lower your risk for Type 2 Diabetes, but it has shown to be one of the most effective ways of managing your diabetes, and it is STRONGLY recommended by the American Diabetes Association. 

Do you struggle with diabetes? Find out how to reverse diabetes and metabolic disease on our very own Stay Healthy Knoxville podcast: “Reversing Diabetes and Metabolic Disease” with Dr. Randy Pardue.

Aging and Osteoporosis

Did you know that . . . 

  • 10 million American adults have been diagnosed with osteoporosis
  • 35 million other Americans have either insufficient bone mass or osteopenia (a softening of the bone)
  • 30% of women and 15% of men will suffer bone related fractures related to osteoporosis

Adults who do not routinely engage in resistance training can expect to see 1-3% decrease in bone mineral density every year of life. Resistance training is VITAL for maintaining bone mineral density. 

Aging and Balance 

aging and balance

Balance is a complex system that involves many areas including strength. Falls are actually the leading cause of death from injury in older populations.

  • 50% of older adults who fall are discharged to a nursing home
  • Non-injurious falls often lead to deconditioning and the fear of falling again in the future
  • ⅓ of individuals over the age of 65 will fall in the next year

The less active an individual’s lifestyle is, the quicker age related changes in vision, postural control and vestibular (balance related to the inner ear) skills will occur.

Because decreased muscle mass = decreased strength, those with low muscle mass are more likely to have balance issues, leading to an increased risk of falling. 

Are you concerned about your balance? Watch this video to take the balance and falls test with Dr. Grace: 

How Can Strength Training Improve Your Health

As we age, it is normal to experience some age related changes in relation to muscle mass, bone mineral density, balance and quality of life. But, just because these are normal processes, this does NOT mean that you should let these changes occur!

Staying on top of your health and lifestyle with a plan means there’s less chance of your muscles deteriorating causing you to lose balance easily.

Building muscle is a great way to combat a seemingly inescapable facet of age. Good balance is the key to avoiding potentially dangerous or life threatening falls.

Let’s take a look at the positive effects you can have on your health through strength training . . .

Reverse Strength & Muscle Mass Losses

A study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine took a group of older adults that had an average age of 89, and they underwent 14 weeks of strength training twice per week.

You’ll probably be asking yourself: “What were the results of this interesting study?”

They saw an average increase in strength of 60% in the participants! 

Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes 

Not only is strength training a great way to prevent type 2 diabetes, but it has also been shown to be one of the most effective ways of managing type 2 diabetes. Strength training for diabetes is STRONGLY recommended by the American Diabetes Association. 

Improved Balance

man fallen from weak muscles needs strength training

Why is it that when adults turn 65, at least 30% will experience at least one fall per year?

  • Lack of muscle for postural control was most common in falls
  • Aging populations lose their Type II muscle fibers MUCH quicker than Type 1
    • (type II fibers are your “fast twitch fibers” aka quick movements, reaction times and lifting!
  • Increased muscle = increase in Type II muscle fibers 

When you stumble or lose balance, you need quick reactions to maintain your footing, which can be greatly enhanced by increasing Type II fibers. 

Resistance training and strength building are proven ways to build and maintain fibers that can weaken overtime.

Strengthened muscles can help to reduce the likelihood of falling, and even more so when balance has been improved on.

Check out our very own balance and fall prevention resources here.

Improved Bone Mineral Density

A well-rounded training program is proven to increase bone density in post-menopausal women, specifically in the lumbar spine and hips. When you load your bones – they respond by adding more bone mineral. 

“Healthy Life Years” and Quality of Life

“Healthy Life Years” can be described as independence that you can maintain until death. Resistance training can possibly extend your life expectancy, but will drastically improve your “healthy life years”. A lower number of comorbidities (obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease) is directly correlated with life expectancy and increasing “healthy life years”.

Resistance training (exercise in general really) allows you to set goals, have a sense of accomplishment and surround yourself with a community!

I am ready to begin my journey to health and where do I start?

Starting couldn’t be easier!

Make sure you have a plan, ease into any program you start, self-assess after training sessions and make adjustments (with regards to intensity), get screened by your MD and physical therapist, and be smart! Below, you will find two businesses that we work closely together with. With Fitness Together, you can work one-on-one with a physical trainer and have a personalized session.

To get started email Andrew Henderson at Andrewhenderson@fitnesstogether.com. With Jazzercise Campbell Station, you can join a community of people who exercise together in order to achieve the common goal. Let them help you along your fitness journey and give you that sense of community! To get started email Kristen Ferguson at csjazzercise@gmail.com.

Strength Training Can Help You Towards A Healthier Future

happy elderly couple after strength training

I would like to start, but I have an injury OR I don’t know where to start. What should I do?

Visit Simply Physio! We can always do an injury screening and address your issues. Let us treat your nagging injury so you can start to build life changing habits without the worry of further injuring yourself or being in pain.

If you are interested in strength training, our Physical Therapists at Simply Physio can point you in the right direction to find people who will guide you and put you on the path for success.

Are you interested in getting started? Get in touch with us through our contact page. Then be sure to apply for your Free Discovery visit, where we can answer all your questions and help map out a recovery plan for you.

Stephen Wilson

Stephen Wilson

My passion lies with helping individuals realize their full potential and attain every goal. I aim to prove to every patient that through movement and exercise, they can conquer their pain and ultimately get back to living well and enjoying life with all it has in store. I was born and raised here in the Knoxville area and graduated from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, majoring in Kinesiology. From there, I received my Doctorate in Physical Therapy through East Tennessee State University. While receiving my Doctorate, I found my passion of treating spinal conditions, as well as chronic pain syndromes. I relish in the opportunity to educate my patients, answer questions and supply them with all of the tools necessary to maintain success.
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