Maintaining strength as you age, why is it important?
Author: Troy Burgess, Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Director at Achieve Exercise Physiologists.
Regardless of your age, staying active regularly is a great way to get the most out of life! This is particularly true for older Australians. Physical activity is a great way to maintain energy levels, increase joint movement, prevent or manage mental health conditions, and improve mood and memory function.
As you age the likelihood of developing a chronic condition also increases, and exercise plays a vital role in reducing your risk of developing illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.
Strength training as you age
Strength exercises can assist with slowing the ageing process, as well as:
- increasing lean muscle mass
- preserving or increasing bone density and joint health
- increasing balance and decrease risk of falls/injury
- preventing of muscle loss
- improving sleep
- improving mental health and reduced depression
- reducing risk and symptoms of some chronic diseases
- improving cognitive function
- potentially reducing the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (2).
Strength exercises can be done in many ways. Examples include using own body weight, household items, weights or using machines, rubber bands or balls. Some examples of strength exercises that you can try are:
- carrying heavy shopping bags
- yoga or Pilates
- Tai Chi
- heavy gardening (digging and shovelling)
- slowly sitting and standing from a chair
- slowly stepping up and down on the back steps
- pushing up against a wall or bench
- rising onto the balls of your feet
- bicep curls, overhead raises, side and frontal raises with makeshift dumbbells using milk bottles, cans or jars.
Getting the right advice
There are additional barriers to being physically active as you age, with 77% of older females and 74% of older males not getting enough physical activity (1).
If you want to get started exercising after a period of time, or maybe for the first time ever, it is recommended that you consult your GP and Accredited Exercise Physiologist. These practitioners will be able to start you at a level that is comfortable, and then gradually build you up to the Australian recommendations.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Insufficient physical activity. Australian Government. 20 October 2020. Accessed June 2022. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/risk-factors/insufficient-physical-activity/contents/insufficient-physical-activity
- Garatachea N, Pareja-Galeano H, Sanchis-Gomar F, Santos-Lozano A, Fiuza-Luces C, Morán M, Emanuele E, Joyner MJ, Lucia A. Exercise Attenutes the Majo Hallmarks of Aging. Rejuvenation Research. 2015:18(1):57-89. http://doi.org/10.1089/rej.2014.1623
Last updated: September 22, 2023 at: 4:53 pm