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How Strength Training Boosts Longevity

By Ilse du Bernard, 9:00 am on

The key to living longer may be strength training, at least according to researchers in Pennsylvania and New York. Focusing on older adults, their study is unique in that it’s the first of its kind to suggest a link between biweekly strength training and extended life expectancy, going a step further than previous studies touting the many benefits of regular exercise.

Building on Known Benefits

According to North Houston senior care professionals, previous studies suggest that regular physical activity can lower the risk of death by keeping weight in check and reducing the risk of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. It’s only been over the past decade, however, that strength training has been significantly studied, with benefits that may reduce the risk of death including:

  • Increased physical functioning
  • Reduced chronic pain symptoms
  • Added muscle mass

Reduced Health Risks

Reviewing data from a four-year National Health Interview Survey of 30,000 adults 65 and older, researchers identified long-term health benefits linked to strength training. Respondents who participated in some type of strength training routine at least twice weekly had a nearly 50 percent reduced risk of death over non-trainers. Biweekly strength trainers also had lower odds of dying from heart-related conditions and cancer.

Adopting Consistent Guidelines

While the American College of Sports Medicine provided exercise guidelines many years ago that are still recommended today, suggestions for strength training are fairly recent. Both the ACSM and the American Heart Association now recommend twice-weekly strength training for all adults. Strength training seniors studied were more likely to be of normal weight and active with other forms of exercise.

Typically involving free weights, barbells, and dumbbells, strength-training routines are versatile enough to adjust to most physical capabilities. Before starting any type of exercise, older adults are encouraged to check with their doctor. A physical therapist or licensed trainer can recommend safe routines for seniors.

Exercise can become more challenging with age, but help is available. At Home Care Assistance, our part-time caregivers in North Houston are expertly trained to assist with mobility, recommended physical therapy exercises, and healthy meal preparation. Learn more about how our flexible care can help your aging parent maintain health and wellness by calling 832-412-1345 and speaking with a friendly Care Manager today.