The benefits of resistance training for health and fitness are well known, especially for increasing strength and power. Often people only think of resistance training as being appropriate for young athletic individuals; however there are a number of very important benefits for the elderly population.
Weight baring exercise such as resistance training increases bone mineral density, which is very important for elderly people as this can help prevent the decline in bone mass with aging and prevent diseases such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. This means stronger bones and less risk of bone fractures which are often debilitating in the aging population.
Prevent Loss of Muscle Mass
As we get older, we experience a decline in muscle mass known as sarcopenia. This often results in significant declines in strength and function with increasing age. However it has been shown that regular resistance training can help slow and even partly reverse sarcopenia in elderly populations, meaning improved strength and function to perform daily tasks such as getting in and out of a chair.
Reduce Falls Risk
Resistance training should also include exercises to challenge coordination and balance. This includes exercises such as standing on an unstable surface such as foam and performing exercises such as bicep curls or squats and trying to maintain balance. This sort of training will help to prevent falls by improving balance and coordination, significantly improving functional capacity in elderly people.
Improve Health Status
Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and COPD are common in elderly populations. Regular participation in resistance training has also been shown to have positive effects on health status for people with these conditions, especially in terms of improving quality of life and functional capacity.
At MD Health, we offer seniors Pilates classes at a discounted rate between the hours of 11AM – 4PM Monday to Thursday. To book a free initial assessment, call us on 9857 0644.
Written by Jack Hickey
Exercise Physiologist at MD Health