I have several well-meaning relatives, especially female, who, whenever they meet me after a long interval, never miss a chance to comment on whether I’ve gained or lost ‘weight’. After having used the ‘lost’ version too many times consecutively, they finally decided to ask me what they should do to get slimmer.
Many of these relatives are middle-aged, between 40 and 60 years old (DISCLAIMER – I don’t subscribe to this dictionary-definition of middle age, which suggests that one becomes ‘old’ at age 60.) The moment I mention to them that apart from adopting an appropriate diet protocol, they should incorporate resistance training into their exercise regimen, they are visibly flummoxed. Isn’t weight training for young persons and bodybuilders, that too, males? Why don’t you tell us how many kilometres to walk or how often to do Yoga?
It is a far too common misconception that resistance training, particularly the kind done in a gym, is not meant for people above a certain age. I would argue, in fact, that it is the one form of exercise that older persons MUST incorporate into their exercise programme.
One of the surest signs of body aging is the loss of muscle mass. Due to changes in the nature of physical activity, diet, metabolism and hormonal profile (especially for women), one starts to lose muscularity in the absence of a concerted effort to maintain lean mass.
Engaging in regular strength training can help avoid muscular atrophy, or loss of muscle. This, in turn, helps to:
- avoid loss of strength, which allows one to do simple day-to-day functions, as well as the difficult or occasional ones, easily and effortlessly
- protect the joints from injury, especially weight-bearing ones, which are essential for independent hassle-free locomotion
- enable quick recovery in the case of any injury
- retain good posture, which is especially useful for keeping the spine healthy
- maintain a strong core, which helps keep up stamina
- maintain a toned look, which keeps one looking younger than one’s chronological age
Additionally, strength training encourages and sustains fat loss, which is usually considered impossible in the middle age. Music for your ears?
The only caveat would be to test for any chronic medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, post-surgery issues, or orthopaedic issues and get a professional practitioner’s clearance before embarking on a resistance-training programme. Also, as for any other age group, one should begin a strength-training programme under the supervision of a qualified instructor.
Here’s some more motivation to try out a gym for the first time – At your next birthday party, expect people to tell you that you look younger this year than at your previous birthday!
PC: Next Avenue