More Can Do conversations
Posted by strivealive on February 25, 2009
This is the second post on my recent conversations about ‘Usual’ vs ‘Successful’ Aging with a group of older adults. I was comparing what ‘usually’ happens with strength to what can happen … and what actually does happen with many members of STRIVE who strength train with us on a regular basis. As I said in my previous post, I received a lot of good feedback from this event so I decided to share it here. It makes ‘Unusually Good’ reading!
Of course the conversation in this group turned, as it always does, to the ubiquitous question of weight loss. “Ok so what about weight loss?” somebody asked “is strength training good for that too?”
Here’s what ‘usually’ happens: We gain about one pound of body fat per year from the age of 30. By the time we hit 70 we have gained about 15% body fat more than our 30 year old fat mass. So far so not good!
Here’s what can happen: The good part comes when we think about how strength training fuels energy expenditure. First of all strength training increases muscle mass and so gives your metabolism (your body’s energy expenditure) a permanent ‘boost’. This makes it easier to lose body fat. Strength training also makes it easier to perform aerobic exercise (another way to increase energy expenditure) because of increased strength and endurance. All this can happen with an appropriately designed program of strength training. Of course you are also expending energy while actually doing the strength training! The importance of strength training in weight management has recently been confirmed by The American College of Sports Medicine. This world wide organization recommended including strength training as an important part of a weight management program. Here’s the relevant quote
… the inclusion of resistance training in weight loss programs has clear advantages. Resistance training is a potent stimulus to increase fat-free mass (FFM), muscular strength, and power and thus may be an important component of a successful weight loss program by helping to preserve FFM while maximizing fat loss.
Sounds good to me!
Lastly, a number of women asked whether strength training can stop or slow bone loss.
Here’s what ‘usually’ happens: The average woman loses about 1% of bone mass each year and after menopause this rate can almost double during the first 5 menopausal years. By age 60 some 20% or more of pre-menopausal bone mass may be lost.
Here’s what can happen: An appropriately designed strength training program can actually reverse this process! Studies have shown that a regularly attended strength training program can slow, reduce or even reverse bone loss. Studies as short as 16 weeks have been shown to increase bone strength and reduce the risk for fractures among older women. But here’s the thing. You have to be working at more than 70% of your maximal strength for these exercises. Not that working at lower levels won’t do any good. It will. But just using those thin rubber bands or those small dumbells won’t cut it for bone strength. Though your muscles may get stronger with this form of exercise, you have to gradually build up the amount of weight you lift to strengthen your bones. This is more achievable than you may think. STRIVE members safely and regularly work at these levels with no problems.
The bottom line from this conversation is that the many benefits of strength training can not only make you stronger but also can help you to “Activate your Aging”
- GET STRONG -