Exercising After 50: It's Never Too Late To Start*

Monday, 18 April 2016, By William McAndrew

The older an individual, the more important it is for this person to be doing some form of strength training. Resistance training increases bone density, which protects against osteoporosis, as well as injuries resulting from an increased risk of falls.

About 14% of the Australian population are over the age of 65, representing a significant portion of the population who fall in the higher risk category for conditions such as obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart attack and osteoporosis. This presents to us a sizeable group of individuals who need a very immediate solution to improve their current state of health.

What can they do?

It's quite simple: Resistance training! The older an individual, the more important it is for this person to be doing some form of strength training. Resistance training increases bone density, which protects against osteoporosis, as well as injuries resulting from an increased risk of falls. Furthermore, resistance training leads to an increase in muscle mass, which decreases the amount of fat stored in the body (particularly harmful abdominal fat). Thus further reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and obesity. Exactly how does this all happen you may wonder? To answer that, we need to take a look at the two M's - metabolism and muscles.

Metabolism

Firstly, let's look at what exactly the word metabolism refers to. It is defined (according to the Oxford dictionary) as - "the chemical processes that occur within a living organism to maintain life" or the sum of all chemical reactions in your body. There are two forms of metabolism - anabolic (building up tissues and cells) and catabolic (the breakdown of molecules to provide energy). Without delving too far into the science behind metabolism, the general concept is that the faster your body's metabolism (or the higher your resting metabolic rate), the healthier a person is. The easiest way to increase your body's metabolism is to increase your body's volume of muscle mass. How do we do this? Resistance training (commonly called strength or weights training).

Resistance Training

The type and intensity of your resistance training program should be the focus when discussing the effects on anyone over the age of 30 - yes, as young as that! That's because, around the age of 30, natural bone density commences a gradual decline. However, the effects of this aren't actually felt until the ages of 50+ and more significantly 65+ (the age range at the highest risk). Unfortunately, with age comes wisdom and weaker bones! The simple solution is weight bearing exercise - resistance training!

How hard do I need to work?

So how high does the intensity need to be for bone density to increase? Well, recent studies suggest that a strength-based training program of between 65-85% of an individual's 1RM (their maximal strength) is sufficient enough to cause a person's bone to re-densify. Get rid of the light weights and rubber bands as they are no longer considered sufficient for good bone health and maintaining muscle mass. If the bone isn't forced to deal with an appropriate stress, it has no need to become stronger. It is extremely important to ensure that you have an appropriate resistance training program that allows you to train the full body a minimum of twice a week at the right intensity, ensuring you have the best chance of increasing muscle mass and strength as well as improving bone density.

William McAndrew is a Senior Personal Trainer at Vision Personal Training Randwick and has been in the health and fitness industry for over 10 years. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Health and Exercise Science and is currently studying a Masters of Exercise Science. Living a healthy and active lifestyle is a passion of Will's and he would love to help you live the healthiest life possible. Our Vision Personal Training studio covers the Eastern Suburbs localities from the beach suburbs of Coogee, Clovelly and Maroubra through to Pagewood, Kingsford, Randwick and Kensington. Just give us a call on 9399-5050 or book online for a free consultation /studios/randwick/

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