Why Strength Training Is the Most Important Exercise for 60+?

senior exercise

Are you over 60, experiencing frequent fatigue, and feeling harder to climb up the stairs? Your muscle force might be decreasing, and it is happening faster than you think.

Before hitting the gym with my mom, I didn't know that 60+ need strength training more than anyone else. Mom just turned 63 and was in great shape. However, she was suffering from neck pain and didn't have any experience with strength training before. After training strength (plus regular stretches) for a few weeks, her neck pain was very much relieved because her muscle was stronger.

After 30, we are losing muscle every year. Inactive people can lose 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after 30. Moreover, muscle loss speeds up after 65. Between 65 and 80, if a person doesn't actively train, one can lose up to 39% muscle force. The reason is more than decreasing muscle mass but our nervous system too. What does that mean? It means it will be harder for us to climb stairs, lift groceries, pick up stuff from the ground, etc. We will also lose stamina and are more likely to fall. Clinically, age-related muscle loss is called sarcopenia. Around 5% to 13% of people between 60 and 70 are affected by sarcopenia.

Why causes age-related muscle loss?
The reasons behind age-related muscle loss are still incomplete. However, the causes most researchers believe are the following:

  • Natural decline of some hormones, such as testosterone and growth hormones
  • Age-related decrease in nervous system function
  • Decrease in efficiency to synthesis muscle cell and energy


How to fight it?
Strength training and protein-rich nutrition are the two treatments to fight against muscle loss. Strength training should come before taking supplements. After all, one can't stimulate muscle growth just by drinking protein shakes without working out.

By starting small, your strength training program can be as easy as you want to. You don't have to do an aggressive deadlift to see the result. You can start from 20 mins simple chair yoga and work your way up. Persistence and progressive resistance are the keys. CDC recommends seniors to do muscle-strengthening workouts 2~3 times a week and train large muscle groups.

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