KINCARDINE – It may seem unnerving to step into a gym and grab some weights, but regardless of your experience in the gym or your age, strength training is an important component of healthy aging.
There are too many benefits to gain from strength training to let a little intimidation stop you from trying it.
As we age, the amount of muscle we have in our bodies starts to decrease, making us a bit weaker the older we get. So, the more muscle mass we have to start with, the better!
As a result of a decrease in muscle mass, our functional fitness also starts to decrease as we get older. Doing exercises that relate to activities of our daily lives will help maintain independence as we get older.
Sometimes strength training exercises may seem irrelevant, but exercises like a squat relates to getting out of a chair and upper body strengthening relates to being able to put stuff away in the cupboard!
Strength training can also help manage disease as we get older.
It improves the glucose and insulin balance in the body, which can make managing prediabetes and diabetes a little bit easier.
Strength training also benefits our hearts. It can improve blood pressure and reduce cholesterol, both important components in fighting cardiovascular disease. For extra benefit, pair strength training with cardiorespiratory training such as walking or biking into your routine.
Other benefits of strength training include stronger bones, improved mental health, increased metabolism, improved self-esteem and many more.
So, how do you start strength training? Try picking a few exercises that target different muscles in your body. You don’t even need to step foot in a gym.
Most strength exercises can be completed at home using soup cans or a resistance band.
Focus on your form rather than how many you can do to start. Completing fewer repetitions, with better form, will benefit you more than completing exercises with poor form.
Sometimes, completing the exercise without weight until you have proper form is enough to begin with!
Exercise professionals, such as kinesiologists, may be able to help you determine proper form for different exercises. With consistency, the exercises you complete will begin to get easier.
Change exercises up once they are easy to avoid plateau.
The Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines suggest that adults age 18 and older complete muscle strengthening exercises at least twice per week and complete aerobic activities for 150 minutes per week, which works out to about 21 min per day.
Children and youth age 5-17 years should aim to complete 60 minutes per day of aerobic activities such as walking, biking, swimming and should incorporate some strengthening activities three times per week.
When being physically active, it is extremely important to ensure you are eating and drinking enough and allowing time for recovery.
If doing strengthening exercises, you may notice some muscle soreness but it should resolve within a day or two.
Split strength training days up to allow time in between to recover and help with soreness.
Incorporating stretching can also help manage and prevent muscle soreness.
Try to stretch all major muscle groups used during a workout, holding for approximately 20-30 seconds, two to three times per stretch for each muscle group. This keeps our muscles lengthened and prevents them from getting tight and tense.
For more information about any of the free services offered by the Minto-Mapleton Family Health Team, visit at mmfht.ca or call the Drayton/Palmerston office at 519-638-2110 or Clifford office at 519-327-4777.
Written by Brianna Yuill, RKin., Kincardine FHT