Lifting weights, also known as resistance training or strength training, has numerous benefits for people as they age.

Research indicates that these exercises have the ability to ward off weakness, frailty and their serious and often debilitating consequences such as falls and broken bones.

The exercises primarily build muscle strength and mass and preserve bone density which is critical to maintaining the independence and vitality of older Australians.

In resistance training, the heaviest load a person can successfully lift once is known as their “one-repetition maximum” or 1RM.

High intensity training involves lifting around 80 per cent of your 1RM.

Lifting below 40 per cent of your 1RM is known as low intensity.

How many reps a person can lift per session varies depending on the weight.

While lifting loads between 40-80 per cent of your 1RM has shown to improve muscle mass, high-intensity training is required to maintain and improve bone health.

Here’s a closer look at all the benefits of lifting weights.

Improved muscle mass and strength

People experience a decline in muscle mass and strength as they age.

Lifting weights helps counteract that decline by stimulating the growth of muscle fibres.

The increase in muscle mass and strength enhances functional capabilities.

It makes daily activities so much easier and decreases the risk of suffering a serious fall which in some older Australians can prove fatal.

Bone health

Lifting weights puts stress on the bones, promoting bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Lifting weights is recommended for people at risk or in the early stages of that disease.

Even without such a diagnosis, older people are more prone to bone fractures and conditions related to bone loss.

Joint health and flexibility

Lifting weights promotes joint health by improving the stability and flexibility of the surrounding ligaments and muscles.

This can alleviate joint pains including those caused by arthritis.

It also helps enhance the range of motion in joints and contributes to better overall joint function.

Metabolism

One of the positive byproducts of increasing muscle mass is a boost in metabolism.

This can help older adults manage their weight and better maintain a healthier figure.

It also delays the deterioration of our metabolism which naturally slows as we age.

Balance and coordination 

Lifting weights engages core muscles and improves balance which in turn enhances stability and coordination.

This is crucial in preventing the likelihood of falls, an all too common occurrence in older people, with potentially dire consequences.

Improved balance and coordination leads to improved confidence and greater independence.

This is vitally important to older people.

The loss of independence inevitably leads to unhappiness and a reduced quality of life.

Managing chronic conditions

Lifting weights has shown to be beneficial for the management of a range of chronic conditions.

These include arthritis, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

It can help regulate and control blood sugar levels, improve cardiovascular health and alleviate symptoms associated with arthritis.

Cardiovascular health

Any activity that keeps you on the move and gets the blood pumping is a positive.

Lifting weights has that effect on the heart by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Incorporating a level of aerobic exercise as well creates a well-balanced approach to heart health.

Cognitive benefits 

Most people will tell you how good they feel after an early morning workout.

So it should come as no surprise that lifting weights has shown to have a positive effect on mood and cognitive function.

Exercise releases endorphins which promote a sense of wellbeing and has shown to enhance brain function including memory and attention.

Social interaction

From a purely social perspective, lifting weights in a group setting is a great way to meet people and share an activity with others.

This alone is positive for a person’s mental health and helps avert loneliness which many older people encounter.

It all contributes to a sense of wellbeing and belonging and provides motivation to maintain the exercise routine.

Book an appointment

Before beginning any significant exercise routine, it is wise to talk to your GP about your plans.

It is an opportunity for them to take some baseline health measurements and ensure you don’t over exert yourself, particularly in the early stages of your program.

This is particularly important for anyone with pre-existing health conditions, which many older Australians are living with.

A tailored and safe approach to lifting weights will maximise the health benefits while minimising the risk of injury.

Doctors at AHA Clinics promote and encourage preventative health and exercise for all ages.

At AHA many GPs have a particular interest in chronic diseases and the health of older Australians.

Book an appointment here today at either our Seaford Road Day and Night Clinic or our Seaford Meadows Day and Night Clinic.