Many of the unpleasant effects of aging seniors experience; less cardiac endurance, achy joints, even brain fog, are improved by gaining lean muscle mass. That’s right, seniors can turn back the aging clock by getting stronger. What’s more astounding, big gains can be made in a short amount of time with targeted strength training.
Improvements happen in two main ways: boosting the metabolic system and through the neuromuscular pathway – the muscles “talking” to the brain via the nervous system. Let’s start with the metabolic system.
Strength training increases the metabolic rate in large part because lean muscle replaces fat in the muscle. The body becomes more efficient in building beneficial tissue, including bones and cardiac muscle, while at the same time decreasing inflammation (a leading cause of Alzheimer’s disease). But it doesn’t stop there! The metabolic changes result in better insulin regulation, reduction in blood pressure, and temperature regulation to name a few.
Enhanced neuromuscular adaptation helps with the fun stuff. How about hitting your golf drives farther? Going hiking with your grandchildren? Traveling anywhere in the world? With improved movement patterns and better cardiovascular endurance, activities seniors thought were in their rear view mirror come into view again.
Better movement patterns are crucial for older seniors who want to stay independent. More lean muscle means activities of daily living (ADL’s) like grocery shopping, cooking, showering, are easier and safer. The likelihood of falling is greatly reduced and, if an injury occurs or surgery is needed, recovery is faster.
How can you get started? It might seem “old school” but the most efficient and safest way to build lean muscle mass is with weight machines. The studies are crystal clear – just two thirty minutes session a week of strength training targeting the major muscle groups leads to fast gains and improved quality of life.