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Health & Wellness

The Importance of Strength Training at Every Age

minute read

When we think of Strength Training, we often imagine muscle bound giants. While this is one area that many people enjoy, the reality is, Strength Training should be a part of all our lives in some capacity, at every stage of life.

July 30, 2023

Strength training — also known as weight or resistance training — is physical activity intentionally done to improve strength and fitness by exercising a specific muscle or group of muscles, against an external resistance (including free weights, weight machines, or your own body weight) according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

Researchers have been studying the effects of strength training for more than 40 years and have identified multiple ways it can benefit us at different stages of our lives, including maintaining muscle mass, improving mobility, and increasing the healthy years of life.

Strength training is different than aerobic exercises (running, swimming etc) and Weightlifting, either with machines or free weights, is only one type of strength training. There are many other options including resistance bands or body weight exercises such as yoga. Resistance training requires our muscles to contract to lift a heavy object against the pull of gravity.

Most importantly, the benefits of strength training are not limited to any one stage of life. You don’t need to train JUST to be a high school athlete…you should be strength training for all stages of life!

Strength Training in Children and Adolescents

Children can greatly improve their strength in a very short period of time with a well-designed strength training program (Youth need to continue to train at least 2 times per week to maintain strength). Children don’t need to use any type of weights to see the benefits. In fact, many children will benefit greatly simply from learning the 5 basic movement patterns (push, pull, hinge, lunge, squat – carry as well). If they simply learn to do these movements, and incorporate them into a regular schedule, they will see increases in all areas of strength. Injuries related to strength training in children are usually from misuse of equipment, inappropriate weight, improper technique, or lack of qualified adult supervision.

Youth—athletes and nonathletes alike—can see huge improvements to their strength and overall health by participating in a well-supervised program. As they progress through puberty and their bodies are flush with growth hormone, they will see greater strength gains at this stage over any other time of their lives. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of a trained, experienced professional to help guide and prevent injuries.

The importance of strength training as we age cannot be overstated.

One of the best ways to prevent injuries in adults/older adults is to incorporate strength training in a regular routine – maintaining range of motion, strength and balance should all be prioritized.

Strength training can benefit older adults by:

1.     Increasing bone density.

2.     Increasing muscle mass.

3.     Enabling better balance and functionality.

4.     Improving body composition.

5.     Improving quality of life.

One of the greatest gains in strength come from our increased coordination, which is important as it helps reduce the chance of falling (more than one in four people over age 65 fall each year with injuries ranging from hip fractures to head. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce fall risk.

Other benefits from strength training include reducing arthritis pain, improving sleep, strengthening bones and reducing back pain. It really can be as simple as three times per week, resulting in not only injury prevention but has been shown to improve the quality of life in every age category.

It should be stated that resistance training can be dangerous if your technique is not right. Before starting any resistance training make sure you have an assessment and program written for your specific needs. Ensure you follow any medical advice and are shown the exercises by a fitness professional.

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