Regular strengthening and resistance training is beneficial at any age. However, for older Australians, strength training is critical to prevent muscle loss associated with ageing. Physiotherapist Jason Lee explains what we should be doing.
Do you know what strength training is? If you don’t, you’re not alone. Here’s what you should know about strength training and how often you should be performing strength exercises.
A recent survey conducted by the CSIRO found that 86 per cent of Australians over the age of 71; and 65 per cent aged between 51 and 70 did not think resistance training was important for overall health.
Resistance and strength training includes working your muscles against some form of weight or resistance. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go to the gym or use equipment. In fact, resistance training can include doing body weight exercises in your home.
At any age, resistance training can help prevent and manage conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis, type II diabetes and heart or cardiac disease. A good guide is to implement strength training twice weekly.
When we include strength training in your weekly regime, we usually count exercise in repetitions or sets. A repetition is generally considered one complete movement of an activity. For example, if you stand up, we count one complete repetition. A set is a group of repetitions.
The weight will differ for each individual; whether that be light or heavy. In order to gain the benefits of strength or resistance training, exercises should be performed up to the point where it becomes difficult to perform another repetition. For example, if using lighter resistance, more repetitions and more sets will be required to create fatigue. If a heavier weight is used, fewer repetitions are generally required.
If you haven’t exercised before, be sure to speak with your GP or your local health professional. Working closely with an appropriate health professional who has a good understanding of your medical and exercise history will ensure that your strength training will be beneficial and, most importantly, safe.
In the next few weeks, I will put together some practical resistance exercises that can be performed using both body weight and equipment readily available in a gym.
Jason Lee is a physiotherapist. He is happy to answer any questions you may have. Simply send an email to [email protected]
Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner or health professional.