As we age, our bodies naturally experience a decline in muscle mass, strength and function. This decline is called sarcopenia, and it can lead to a host of negative health outcomes, including increased risk of falls, fractures and functional impairment. However, research has shown that lifting weights or resistance training can help to slow or even reverse the effects of sarcopenia, making it a beneficial form of exercise for older people. In addition, resistance training has been shown to have unique benefits for people with dementia, helping to improve their cognitive and physical health. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of lifting weights for older people’s health.
Increases Muscle Mass and Strength
Resistance training has been shown to increase muscle mass and strength in people of all ages, including older adults. As we age, our muscles naturally lose mass and strength, but lifting weights can help to slow or even reverse this decline. This is important because muscle mass and strength are important predictors of overall health and quality of life in older adults. Research has shown that older adults who engage in resistance training have improved muscle strength and function, reduced risk of falls and fractures, and better overall physical function.
Improves Bone Health
In addition to improving muscle mass and strength, lifting weights can also improve bone health. This is important because older adults are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle. Resistance training has been shown to increase bone density and reduce the risk of fractures in older adults, making it an important component of a comprehensive osteoporosis prevention program.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
While resistance training is not typically associated with cardiovascular health, research has shown that it can have a positive impact on the heart and circulatory system. Resistance training has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce resting heart rate, and improve blood lipid levels, all of which are important markers of cardiovascular health. In addition, resistance training has been shown to improve arterial function, which can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in older adults.
Improves Cognitive Function
As well as physical benefits, resistance training has also been shown to improve cognitive function in older adults. Research has shown that resistance training can improve memory, attention, and executive function, all of which are important aspects of cognitive health. In addition, resistance training has been shown to improve brain function in people with dementia, helping to slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life.
Improves Mood and Mental Health
Finally, lifting weights can also have a positive impact on mood and mental health in older adults. Research has shown that resistance training can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as improve overall quality of life. In addition, resistance training has been shown to improve sleep quality, which is an important aspect of mental and physical health.
Lifting weights or resistance training is a beneficial form of exercise for older adults and people with dementia. It can help to increase muscle mass and strength, improve bone health, cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and mood and mental health. Resistance training should be considered as an important component of exercise programs for older adults and could be included in any plan aimed at improving overall health and quality of life.
Thanks for reading and listening! Hannah.
Hannah Hussain is a PhD Student in Health Economics at The University of Sheffield. As a proud third generation migrant and British-Asian, her career path has been linear and ever evolving, originally qualifying as a Pharmacist in Nottingham, then Health Economics in Birmingham. Her studies have opened a world into Psychology, Mental Health and other areas of health, and with that and personal influences she found her passion for dementia.