Lifting at 50’s: Live Longer and Stronger

Age is just a number! Your determination matters. At the age of 50 muscle strength is more important. To know what other benefits you can get from lifting at 50’s, read the full article!

So you are getting old, at least that’s what you might think of yourself and will not spend much time posing and flexing in front of the mirror or for that matter trying to add inches to your chest. Hence, lifting weight might not even be the last thing in your mind, right? Well, you will be surprised at our findings. At this age, muscle strength is even more important as these muscles support your skeletal system and joints. Weak muscles may snatch away active and independent lifestyle you wish to lead, also it will dent your relaxing and vacationing moods because you can’t enjoy.

Good news is that it is in your hands to reverse the trend with weight training. Yes, it is very effective and safe for you. If you think that it has been too late to start then remind yourself that it is better late than never. You can live your dream life as you age. Age shouldn’t be a hurdle for enjoying good health and no, your spine won’t hurt, it will get stronger.

The elderly need strength training more and more as they grow older to stay mobile for their everyday activities. The goal of training is to reduce loss of muscle mass and the resulting loss of motor function. It has been observed that strength training in the elderly less than 60 years increases muscle strength by increasing muscle mass and by improving the recruitment of motor units, thereby, increasing their firing rate. It is now recommended that healthy old people should train 3 to 4 times weekly for the best results; persons with poor performance at the outset can improve even with less frequent training. In people above 60, weight training helps prevent muscle mass and restore functional strength. There are no side-effects till proper posture, technique and guidance is there.

I got to meet Richard James, President IBFF and Entrepreneur, who is 53 and for him age is just a number. He is a competing bodybuilding athlete and plays with his son Kevin who is 23. Richard James recalls his journey, “My professional work requires me to be aligned with time zones of different geographies which needs me to be operational for a period of 17-18 hours in a day, there are days when the hours are long at work and all I see is the comfort of my bed but instead I choose to stay on my routine and commitment towards working out daily at a gym. At this age the body is degenerating everyday and to be able to keep myself motivated to hit the gym regularly is a task but this is where my mental strength helps me stay focused and determined. Injuries are a challenge at this age as we are not getting any younger yet with a combination of proven home remedies, physiotherapy and above all the mental strength which pushes me to go beyond the limitations of my physical body keep me abreast and aligned with my daily workout goals.”

People like Richard give a message that you can add to the quality of life by adding quality to your health and keeping fit. You can be useful and purposeful throughout your lifetime apart from living comfortable and healthy. He further adds, “I realized that I have a bigger purpose than just maintaining a fit body that is to help those who need guidance in this journey and provide them with a platform irrespective of gender/caste/age which can help them reflect upon themselves and share their achievements/stories with the world. This also is a reason why we are the only foundation that has a LGBT category to encourage this community as sports does not recognize any segregations – other than passion.”

At this age, through structured, intense and regular training, combined with careful selection of diet anyone over 50 can continue to aspire for a hyper muscular and fit physique which is more to be assessed on tone, symmetry & definition than bulk or strength. So having physique goals also keep you motivated, apart from overall health.

Even if you don’t aim high enough, most of the medical practitioners recommend weight training for all age groups and that includes people over 50. A group of nursing home residents ranging in age from 87 to 96 improved their muscle strength by almost 180 percent after just eight weeks of weightlifting, also known as strength training. Even frail elderly people over 80 find that their gait and balance improves, their walking pace gets better and stairs become less of challenge for them!

There are substantial benefits of weightlifting for people above 50 who are keen to be fit and strong enough to support their body carry out all the functions properly. Some of them are:

  1. Improved walking ability
  2. Easy performance in day to day tasks
  3. Prevention of fractures and broken bones
  4. Weight loss
  5. Improved Glucose Control which benefits diabetics
  6. Relief from joint pains and arthritis which is a common problem in old age
  7. Better sleep
  8. Helps lift up people from mild to moderate depression
  9. Increased self-confidence
  10. Increased life expectancy (unless no medical exigencies or accidental deaths)

However, there are certain things to keep in mind before starting weight training. It is applicable to all the age groups but elderly should be more particular. They should always check with their doctor before starting weight training. The most important thing is to consult with your doctor, it is certain that any good one will be happy to assist you with your decision to improve your health with lifting weight, still, if you have hypertension and heart problem then the doctor can run a few tests and tell you to lift light weights and do mild weight training.

Once your doctor gives you a go ahead, there you are showing your prescription to your trainer and outperforming yourself in the game of life. Exercise anywhere but better with a trainer until you discover your body’s potential and can deal with it on your own. Keep in mind that right technique is very important to gain desired results without risking injury.

People who wish to live fullest, live active, live strong and live long should lift their lives up by lifting weights. There is no particular age to start, even if you are 90, you can very well start with doctor’s advice and trainers guidance. Your regularity at weight training will make you experience a better and lively life and always remember that spirit can always defy your body’s expiry date!

References

  1. Katsiaris A, Newman AB, Kriska A, et al. Skeletal muscle fatigue, strength, and quality in elderly: the Health ABC Study. J Appl Physiol. 2005;99:210–216. 
  2. Aagaard P, Suetta C, Caserotti P, Magnusson SP, Kjaer M. Role of the nervous system in sarcopenia and muscle atrophy with aging: strength training as a countermeasure. Scand J Med Sci Sports.
  3. Subject: Richard James, President IBFF and Entrepreneur (53-year-old Athlete and Fitness Expert)

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