Weighty Ways to Stay Healthy
Scientists are discovering that regular gym work for those over fifty can slow down the aging process and rejuvenate health.
Dr.Simon Melov of the Buck Institute for Age Research north of San Francisco believes that people are becoming unnecessarily feeble before their time. This is probably because most of the ageing population become inactive and refrain from muscular activity.
Melov and other researchers suggest that resistance training (weight lifting) rejuvenates muscles and strengthens bones.
In fact recent research demonstrates that resistance exercise stimulates “gene activity” in muscle cells (BBC News) and not only makes muscles stronger but younger as well.
In one Canadian study a mixture of 65years+ and 20-35 year olds were given twice weekly resistance training workouts of an hour long over six months. Before the study the 65+ group were about 60% weaker than their younger participants but by the end of the period the 65+ group had significant gains in strength.
Lifting weights also have a positive effect upon bones as well. The resistance puts pressure on bone tissue causing it to draw upon more nutrients in order to become stronger to handle the new tasks.
Remember the old adage, ‘what you don’t use, you lose?’ This was one of the problems encountered in space travel because the consequent weightlessness and lack of muscular resistance, caused a loss in the bone mass of the astronauts. Now astronauts who are in space for any length of time undergo a regime of exercise to prevent too great a loss of their bone tissue.
Incidentally, this may explain why women live longer than men.
Generally, they never retire or become couch potatoes but continue their normal lifestyle after their husband’s retirement. They have a daily regime of resistance training. What they did before their husbands retirement, they continue afterward. For instance, they hang out the washing, carry the shopping, clean the house, as well as a host of other things (come on fellas, give them a hand, you might live longer).
But anyone in the 50s+ can and should participate in resistance training.
“Strengthening muscles keep individuals active and maintain their independent lifestyles much longer,” said one personal trainer. Anytime Fitness franchises are springing up everywhere and are open 24/7 so there are no excuses. An initial assessment is applied to every individual (for example if you have had a hip replacement or bypass surgery, your program will be assessed appropriately).
But even if you can’t get to a gym you and don’t have equipment at home you can improvise. First grab a weight lifting booklet from a library or a health food shop.
From there use a little initiative and in place of dumbbells use cans of food or bottled water. Improvisation is the name of the game! Follow the regime as outlined in the booklet and gradually increase the frequency and weights used as you feel comfortable. And always leave a day or two between sessions to allow for muscle recovery. On these days do aerobic activity, such as walking or even bicycling.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain and hey, you might even make new friends.
It’s never too late.