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Importance of Strength-training while we age

There are wonderful information on strength-training and aging developed by Dr. Miriam Nelson, PhD., a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) who as Director of the John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition and Associate Professor of Nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University was the principal investigator of studies on exercise and nutrition for older adults, work supported by grants from the government and private foundations. She author: Strong Women Stay Young, Strong Women Stay Slim, Strong Women, Strong Bones, Strong Women Eat Well, and Strong Women and Men Beat Arthritis, and the Strong Women's Journal. Dr. Nelson in 2001 did a PBS special entitled Strong Women Live Well, showing the benefits of exercise and nutrition for women's health. Was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, Fresh Air, and the Discovery Channel.


The following are key points of her research:

The Main message:

Being physically active is the stimulus that gets most organs in the body to work at their best,” says Dr. Miriam Nelson.

Its never too late to start exercising. “Well into your 90s, all of these systems can be stimulated,” notes Dr. Nelson. “It’s quite remarkable.”

If you’re not active it affects all body systems, literally down to the cellular level, where your ability to transfer oxygen from the blood-stream to cells is diminished and the number of power-producing mitochondria in your cells is less. If you can’t get as much oxygen out of your blood, you can’t walk up a flight of stairs as easily as you get older. And that’s just one system that suffers if you’re sedentary. The good news: it’s never too late to start moving. “

Dr. Miriam Nelson states “Aging is associated with a number of physiologic and functional declines that can contribute to increased disability, frailty, and falls. Contributing factors are the loss of muscle mass and strength as age increases, a phenomenon called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia can result or be exacerbated by certain chronic conditions, and can also increase the burden of chronic disease.”

Dr. Miriam Nelson finds that regular strength-training programs either under supervision or home-based programs have the ability to elicit meaningful health benefits in older adults. The key is to best identify the most appropriate strength-training recommendations for older adult individual and to make sure they are safe and effective programs


Her Research:

Dr. Miriam Nelson and Tufts University colleagues proved that lifting weights in older women doesn't just build muscles it also strengthens brittle bones and reduces osteoporosis risk in older women.

Research was done on women that are 50-70 doing high intensity strength training. Women can get very physically strong, get much healthier, gain muscle, lose body fat and gain bone through a simple intervention.

The research has demonstrated that strength-training exercises have the ability to combat weakness and frailty and their debilitating consequences. Strength training can keep older men and women young and active, even up into their 80s. Done regularly (e.g., 2 to 3 days per week), these exercises build muscle strength and muscle mass and preserve bone density, independence, and vitality with age. In addition, strength training also has the ability to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and the signs and symptoms of numerous chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes, while also improving sleep and reducing depression.

Research studies, on the effects of strength training on body composition, muscle, bone, strength, frailty, function, type II diabetes, depression, sleep, osteoporosis, congestive heart failure, and arthritis.

They have gathered more information about the importance, especially as you grow older, of strength training for older adults.

What they found was “the greatest impact is just doing it regularly and having a good program and then also making sure that you're targeting most of the major muscles groups, and that you're doing at an intensity that is high enough so that you get benefits and that you're doing it in proper form.”

Dr. Nelson urges women to begin pumping iron at least by their 30s and 40s, because that's when bones start to thin. Lifting weights for 30 min. two to three times a week can slow or even reverse that bone loss. Don't be worried about bulging muscles; women produce too little testosterone to really bulk up.


Make sure exercise equipment are appropriate for your age

There are a lot of machines out there which older adults, because of range limiting issues, because of initial weakness, they have difficulty on some machines, not all. The better machines within any category are really fine. There are some health clubs where the machines are simply not appropriate for an older adult.


Rest between one workout day from another;

Strength training is good for your muscles, your metabolism, and your bones. When you strength train properly, you actually cause microscopic tears in the muscle tissue. This process is part of what causes the muscles to grow in size and strength. It is important to take a day off between exercising each muscle group. If your muscles continue to be very sore, wait one more day.

The American College of Sports Medicine Guidelines suggest that you strength train two or three days a week with a day off between exercise sessions. This applies only to strength training, not aerobic or flexibility exercises. When you first start strength training, you will notice more soreness after exercise. If your muscles are not tired at the end of a set of exercises, you may need to increase the weight you are moving or lifting. Make increases of 10% each time and determine how your body responds.


Nutrition is vital

Focuses on both physical fitness and nutrition, the duplex. This implies an important connection between the two, there are observable synergies between physical fitness and nutrition? One without the other results in poor health.

If you also exercise and eat really poorly, you're not going to be maximizing the impact of the hard work that you are doing. When you add the two together, they both mutually feed off of each other. A body that's exercising needs to be well nourished and a body that's well nourished can exercise well, and then you're going to be so much healthier.

You got to do both; eat right and exercise. "There's no magic bullet," Dr. Nelson says. "But strength training can mean the difference between having a vibrant old age and a frail one.


What is the difference between Men and Women regarding strength training:

Strength training is completely applicable to both men and women. It's just that men have a larger base of muscles and strength to begin with, so it's not as critical for men as it is with women. It becomes critical for men 10-15 years later than it does for women. Issues around bone, frailty, falls, are issues that affect more women than men. 20% of men are going to get osteoporosis compared to 50% of women. It's important to both groups, it's a matter of relativity. “

In Strong Women and Men Beat Arthritis, the team of researchers, headed by Miriam Nelson, Ph.D., presents a home exercise program based on a study of 46 people with severe osteoarthritis of the knee. In four months, the group--who exercised in their homes with easy-to-find equipment--reported 43 percent less pain, 44 percent improved function, and 71 percent increased muscle strength.

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