Debunking Myths about Strength Training for Seniors
By Adelyn Chen
When you think of "strength training", a few things might come to mind: dumbbells, resistance bands, weightlifting, and perhaps a fit, young adult. While all of those are relevant, strength training is much more than that. Despite this form of physical activity being extremely beneficial through the aging process, strength training is commonly seen as boring, risky, ineffective, or not applicable to older adults. These are all myths—keep reading to learn more about the truth behind strength training for seniors!
Myth 1: Strength training is dangerous for older adults.
With the right form, equipment, and training level, strength training is very safe. For example, if you start by doing squats, you might consider holding onto a nearby, sturdy table. In addition, strengthening your muscles will make your everyday movements much safer; one study found that with elastic bands and your own body weight, six months of low-intensity strength training is "safe and beneficial in improving functional performance" of older people. This includes decreasing fall risk, increasing grip strength, improving body composition, and more, which in turn improve quality of life.
Myth 2: There are very few ways to do strength training.
Even if you don't regularly work out, you would most likely be able to name a few different types of strength training equipment off the top of your head. The most simple examples—at home or otherwise—include dumbbells, barbells, and resistance bands. As far as machinery goes, there are rowing, leg press, and leg extension machines, to name a few.
It's true that not all of these types of equipment are particularly suitable for older adults, which is part of what contributes to the idea that strength training is not for older age groups. However, there are still many different ways for seniors to strengthen their muscle groups. For example, a lot of strength training exercises can be done without any equipment at all, like squats, split squats, and broad jumps. If you want to try something else, easy-to-manage equipment like dumbbells and resistance bands are a great way to start.
Myth 3: Strength training always has to be extremely rigorous.
The safest and most effective way to strength train is to start at a manageable resistance level, with the right amount of repetitions, and slowly increase as your muscles get stronger. Attempting to train beyond a suitable level can be harmful, and low-intensity training has been shown to be equally as beneficial as high-intensity training, as long as you're putting your best effort into the workout. If you haven't retired and spend a lot of time at work, doing your exercise routine just a few times a week can still show incredible results.
Myth 4: Strength training is not fun.
Working out can get very exhausting, which might take some of the fun out of it. Fortunately, there are many ways to spice up your strength training workouts. For example, you can try working out to the rhythm of some of your favorite songs, setting goals and rewarding yourself, or joining a class where you get to work out with others. Heyday has many of these features; you can find collaborative exercises, energetic and supportive instructors, fun games, workout parties with friends, and more all on our platform.
No matter what kind of workout you enjoy, one thing is for sure: strength training is very important for your physical health. Join our strength training community today!