As we age it is much more difficult to maintain muscle mass. Experts at the Mayo Clinic believe we need to be proactive about maintaining our strength. “If you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you'll increase the percentage of fat in your body," says Edward Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center. "But strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass — at any age."
The Mayo Clinic gives the following incentives regarding strength training:
• Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
• Control your weight. As you gain muscle, your body gains a bigger "engine" to burn calories more efficiently — which can result in weight loss. The more toned your muscles, the easier it is to control your weight.
• Reduce your risk of injury. Building muscle helps protect your joints from injury. It also contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.
• Boost your stamina. As you get stronger, you won't fatigue as easily.
• Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including arthritis, back pain, depression, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis.
• Sharpen your focus. Some research suggests that regular strength training helps improve attention for older adults.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation believes that strength training is one of your primary defenses against osteoporosis, “These exercises include activities where you move your body, a weight or some other resistance against gravity. They are also known as resistance exercises.” Here is what they recommend:
• Lifting weights
• Using elastic exercise bands
• Using weight machines
• Lifting your own body weight
• Functional movements, such as standing and rising up on your toes
Below is a variety of exercises using various resistance tools. You should do 12-15 reps of each for two sets. Rest 30 seconds between each set.