July 01, 2011

Get stronger, live better

Benefits of weight training

Muscles

No matter how well you take care of yourself, age will take a toll on the amount and quality of muscle in your body. Weaker muscles and loss of muscle mass can contribute to many health problems, such as increased risk of falls, decreased bone strength and weight gain.

With declining strength, you also may notice that things get harder to do. As a result, you may cut back on or stop a favorite physical activity, hire someone to mow the lawn, or have to say no to grandkids who are begging you to play.

But don't give up hope and blame it all on getting old. Studies have found that only about 30 percent of the difference in strength between young adults and older adults is due to aging. That means about 70 percent of the strength people lose is related to other factors, most notably a decline in physical activity.

But this 70 percent loss doesn't have to occur — and if it has already occurred, the loss can be regained. Older adults often experience remarkable improvement in strength within weeks or months of starting a strength training program. You may be surprised at how easy it is — and how little time it takes — to maintain or get back the strength you need to improve your health and to maintain active independence.

Muscle matters

If you're not planning to enter a bodybuilding contest or to start playing professional football any time soon, why...