Weight Training For Seniors

Seniors can prevent bone breakage by participating in weight training programs. Learn how.

I never saw my grandmother or grandfather lifting weights. That was the domain of young men and women. For many years bone breaks and fractures such as arms, legs and hips were considered a normal part of aging. Not today. Seniors are taking a proactive stance towards their own health. Since so many are living longer they are seeking ways to stay healthy and hold back the effects of aging.

It is relatively new, but there are senior weight training classes all across in America. The health clubs are leading the way with special senior classes using lighter weights. Some of the more active senior centers have also started weight training classes. For those not ready to take on such a vigorous program there are even weight classes in the pool with special waterproof weights.

These senior groups are not looking to become Mr. And Mrs. America or to have washboard abs. They are interested in strengthening themselves to remain healthy as long as possible. For others, weight training helps them continue doing essential daily activities without help. Experts who have studied senior weight training with frail elderly have reported a restoration of independence and flexibility after a series of weight training classes.

By strengthening senior's muscles, weight training delays disability and saves millions in medical costs. It is well worth the investment of public funds to offer weight-training classes at community senior housing and senior citizen centers. These programs utilize free weights, stretch bands, and weight machines. According to Dr. James Judge, of the University of Connecticut Center, he has seen a 30 to 60 percent increase in strength in seniors who participated at least twice a week in these program. The message from experts is, If you want to turn back the clock, start weight training now. Why is it important?

The facts are losing muscle is part of aging, but it can be delayed through exercise and proper nutrition. When we lose muscle what happens? The muscle is replaced with fat. This is according to the author of STRONG WOMEN, STRONG BONES. Miriam Nelson is also a nutritionist and director of the Center for Physical Fitness at Tufts university. To restore muscle and lose that fat, weight training is recommended.

Currently only a small percentage of seniors regularly work out twice a week with weights, though many more participate in aerobic classes. There is a government movement on to increase the number who add weight training to their regular schedule. Health clubs have taken the lead. They are aware of the health benefits to seniors who participate in weight training and have instituted special senior classes. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a health club. An alternative is work with at-home programs that use dumbbells and ankle weights while exercising to music. There are a variety of videotapes offering exercise programs for seniors and some have lively music to make the workout more fun.

Miriam Nelson also has a web site with more information for seniors who want to participate in weight training programs, called StrongWomen.

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