Why resistance training is so important for the over 50s

Resistance training has shown to reduce some negative effects of aging such as frailty and muscle loss.

"Current research has demonstrated that resistance training is a powerful care model to combat loss of muscle strength and mass in the aging population,"

says Mark D. Peterson, a member of the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation.

Also, according to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,

“countering muscle disuse through resistance training is a powerful intervention to combat muscle strength loss, muscle mass loss (sarcopenia), physiological vulnerability (frailty), and their debilitating consequences on physical functioning, mobility, independence, chronic disease management, psychological well-being, and quality of life.”

Lead researcher Duck-chul Lee, PhD, associate professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, said he was

“most surprised that practicing just less than one hour per week of resistance exercise was enough to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.”

With all the compelling evidence in it's favour, it’s a good idea to start a resistance training program right away. You don’t need to start too heavy or exercise for hours to start seeing the benefit. We’ll discuss several options for older people to start building muscle mass and strength. Many of these are easy to do in your own home and don’t require much in the way of equipment.

Weight lifting

Use weights that are challenging but do not require you to twist or arch your back to lift when raising them. It’s better to start with a lighter weight and work up as your strength improves so you don’t experience too much muscle soreness and become discouraged. We love this list of simple weights exercises to get you started.

Resistance bands

These stretchy bands are between £10-£15 and allow you to do many of the training exercises while sitting down, so it’s great for those with back issues or reduced mobility. You don’t need to choose a very high resistance when starting off. Begin at a comfortable resistance and work up as you build strength. We love the BHF’s guide to simple exercises for older people.

Body weight

When you use your own body weight, you don’t need any equipment! Think push ups, crunches, planks, wall presses and squats. Depending on your fitness level, start small with a wall press and work up to something more challenging like a plank or push up. Start with 10 reps and work up as you build your strength. 

Check with your GP

As with any new fitness routine, it’s best to check with your GP about what exercises are recommended for your unique body and medical history. Don’t start any program of strenuous exercise if you have any pre-existing health conditions that preclude you from exercise.

Consider a Personal Trainer

Our Audley Club personal trainers specialise in programs for older people focused around low impact cardio, resistance and strength training. They can advise on your form and give you the encouragement needed to push through any mental barriers. They can even work on a tailored nutrition plan to help keep you on track.

Discover more about the Audley Club gym and swimming facilities and fitness classes and personal training well-suited to older people.