By Adam Yezer

old lady grandma deadlifting heavy

Do you hope to maintain your quality of life as you age? Is it important for you to be able to perform daily tasks, enjoy recreational activities, and care for yourself? You probably want to stay fit, trim, strong, and mobile for as long as possible. If you happen to have some physical limitations, you probably hope to halt or maybe even improve those limitations. This doesn’t have to be just wishful thinking. You don’t have to accept frailty as you age!

There’s good news on the physical front

You can do more than just hope for a strong, mobile body as you age. It is possible to turn back the aging clock! The myth is that as we grow older we get much weaker and suffer more aches and pains. We’ve been told that losing muscle and gaining fat are just part of the natural aging process. The fact is many of the symptoms of old age are really the symptoms of inactivity—of using our muscles less. Muscle weakness, bone loss, and sluggish metabolism are changes that accompany aging but are not solely caused by it.

Use it or lose it! No doubt you have heard this phrase before. I can’t think of a better one to describe what happens to our bodies as we age. However, you can slow and possibly reverse many of the symptoms associated with aging by increasing your strength and flexibility. You can turn your wishful thinking into a reality!

Strength training—the primary weapon against aging

They still haven’t discovered the fountain of youth, but strength training, or weight training, is pretty close to it. More and more fitness experts are recommending strength training to their clients for health reasons. These clients include men and women of all ages. Strength training is extremely important for combating age-related declines in muscle mass, bone density, and metabolism. It’s an effective way to increase muscle strength and shed unwanted inches. Strength training also helps to decrease back pain, reduce arthritic discomfort, and prevent or manage some diabetic symptoms.

According to Tufts University, the top ten strength training exercises are the chest press, deadlift, squat, lateral pull-down, seated cable row, biceps arm curl, triceps press down, overhead press, and crunch. (The bench press, squat, and deadlift are considered powerlifting movements.)

The muscle-fat connection

Physical inactivity causes an average loss of 5–7 pounds of muscle per decade. This muscle loss leads to a metabolic rate reduction of 2–5 percent per decade. Calories that were previously used for muscle energy are put into fat storage, which results in gradual weight gain. One study on older adults (Campbell 1994) showed that a three-month, basic strength training program resulted in the exercisers adding three pounds of muscle and losing four pounds of fat while consuming 15 percent more calories.

Osteoporosis prevention

At Tufts University, researchers found that strength training can increase bone density. Prior to this research, it was believed that women may be able to slow their bone loss but not increase their bone density. This new study showed that strength training at any age can actually add bone, not just slow its loss.

Arthritic pain decreases

According to Tufts University, sensible strength training may be one of the best ways to get relief from your arthritis. Not only will it help lubricate and nourish the joint, but strength training will also strengthen the muscles around the joint, providing it with greater support.

Glucose metabolism improvement

As we age, our glucose sensitivity decreases. Poor glucose metabolism is associated with Type II diabetes. One study (Hurley 1994) found that after four months of strength training, there was an average increased glucose uptake of 23 percent.

So strength training can be a healthy way to fight the aging process. Just be sure to execute the proper form, warm-up, lift within your capabilities, eat a well-balanced, nutritional diet, and maintain a healthy weight. By following these “rules,” you can also be a more efficient lifter. Also be sure to see a qualified medical doctor before starting any exercise program.

Adam Yezer is a nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. He has extensive experience in all aspects of nutrition and competitive training and is a board certified specialist in sports dietetics and a certified personal trainer. Adam competes in both powerlifting and bodybuilding and won the 2007 AAPF State Record in the 181-lb masters bench press. For more information, please email Adam at

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