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Throughout my fitness career, one of the most rewarding classes that I have taught has been senior fitness. I love teaching seniors how to reconnect with their bodies and maintain balance and stability. It is also very important for those in their golden years to continue to build strength through resistance training, as muscle loss is prevalent as one ages.
Mark Petersen, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan Health System agreed, stating in a recent article review that, "Resistance exercise is a great way to increase lean muscle tissue and strength capacity so that people can function more readily in daily life."
The article focused specifically on progressive resistance training and was published in the American Journal of Medicine. Progressive resistance training focuses varying the amount of weight used, as well as how often and for how long over a certain time-frame. It is done in this manner to improve individual results. In the fitness world we refer to this as load, frequency and duration. The results indicated by the University of Michigan researchers found an average gain of muscle of 2.42 pounds throughout 18-20 weeks of progressive resistance training.
My experience with teaching seniors resistance training classes has involved seeing an overall improvement in their “life skills.” These include simple everyday tasks such as climbing up a flight of stairs, sitting down and standing up from a chair or toilet, and getting in and out of the shower or tub.
By building muscle you are building strength and counteracting the negative signs of aging. Research shows that a person who becomes more sedentary with age will likely lose up to .4 pounds a year of muscle after the age of 50.
Going from sedentary to starting resistance training does not necessarily mean picking up the heaviest weight. A good way to start is with your own body weight or a resistance band. Simple tasks like getting up and down from a chair 10 times or doing standing push-ups against the wall are good ways to get your lower and upper body strength back. Mind/body exercises are also excellent in building of core strength, balance and stability.