Over the years, adults lose muscle mass and therefore strength. Power – the ability to contract muscles quickly – also is reduced. These changes in the brain, nerves, and muscles can cause problems in living safely and independently. Older adults may become less able, or even unable, to take part in their favourite activities. They may also be at risk of falling. Some will simply be unable to get out of a chair.
But there is good news. No matter what the age or ability, older adults can get stronger and more powerful, by doing resistance or strength training. Starting in the 1990s, researchers showed that strength training is helpful for older adults. Seniors can do strength training if they are healthy, active and in their sixties and also if they are less active or frail and in their nineties.
CSEP guidelines suggest that older adults do strength training at least two days a week, using the major muscle groups, such as those in their legs, trunk, and shoulders. It must be challenging enough to improve their strength.
Research shows that with strength training, older adults can:
As a fitness practitioner this type of activity may be new and intimidating for an older individual.
Regardless of one’s age, it’s never too late to gain strength and power, and maintain independence and an improved quality of life. And remember, as the leader, ensure that the class is fun, social and it makes them feel good.