Finders, keepers / Silver sneakers!

At any age, it’s important to find exercise routines that keep you in good health. Though many seniors join local gyms to participate in aerobic fitness classes such as Silver Sneakers, they often don’t realize the many benefits of strength training, also referred to as weightlifting.

Contrary to popular belief, weightlifting isn’t just for the young and buff; it may even be more important as we age. Loss of muscle mass and strength are primary contributing factors to increased disability, frailty, and falls.

Weightlifting offers more than physical benefits. It can also help limit the effects of aging on your mental faculties. At the University of British Columbia, researchers demonstrated that just six months of twice-weekly strength training classes significantly boosted cognition among older women with mild memory loss.

So lace up a bright, new pair of sneakers — silver ones, perhaps? — and pull on those exercise shorts, because it’s time to better your quality of life and recapture a bit of youth.

8 Great Reasons to Lift Weights

In honor of his retirement from late night hosting, here’s a David Letterman-style review of the Top 8 Physical Benefits of Strength Training (in no particular order):

  1. Relief from Arthritis. Weightlifting may seem like a pain to some, but it’s actually a way to relieve it. Maintaining a strength training program can decrease arthritic pain, improve signs and symptoms of arthritis, and decrease disability. In fact, strength training can be better than medication at relieving pain from rheumatoid or osteoarthritis.
  2. Restored Balance and Flexibility. While strength training will never transform you into a contortionist or tightrope walker, it can effectively improve how flexible you are and provide greater overall balance in daily activities. Restoring these physical qualities can make you less vulnerable to falls and other injuries.
  3. Strengthened Bones. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but weightlifting can help prevent that. Weight training has the potential to build bone mass in the spine and hips, so this type of program is often emphasized to people with osteoporosis.
  4. Healthy Weight Maintenance. If you feel like a bigger belly was part of your retirement package, you can burn more than 100 calories in just half an hour with a strength training program. As long as overweight seniors maintain a (relatively) healthy diet, weightlifting can definitely help shed a few pounds.
  5. Better Glucose Control. Not only is diabetes one of the leading causes of vision loss in the elderly, abnormal blood glucose levels can increase your risk of developing a cardiovascular disease. With strength training, you can control your glucose levels, which will reduce your risk of heart disease by 42%.
  6. Improved Sleep Habits. If counting sheep can’t help you fall asleep, keeping count of your biceps curl reps might. Strength training will help you fall asleep more quickly, sleep more soundly, and sleep longer. Studies have indicated that a strength training routine can even improve sleep apnea.
  7. Enhanced Physical Appearance. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good. Improving your physique is one of the best ways to boost your self-confidence. So pump that iron, and pump up your self-esteem!
  8. A Healthy Heart. When your heart is happy, so are you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that cardiac patients made gains in aerobic capacity when strength training was part of their rehabilitation. It may even reduce your risk of developing heart disease at all!

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Right now, we bet you’re anxious to head straight to the nearest gym — but don’t go anywhere quite yet. At HealthMarkets Insurance Agency, we strongly recommend that you schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss starting a new strength training program. Your doctor will likely be thrilled by your decision. There are just a few conditions, such as hypertension, that may require some tests prior to starting on the road to physical fitness.

Once you have your doctor’s approval, you can join a local gym and receive professional instruction on proper weightlifting techniques from a certified personal trainer. If you prefer, you can just as easily get a great workout at home with barbells, dumbbells, or even plastic milk jugs filled with water.

So what’s the delay? Get on the phone and tell your doctor that you need to see him or her right away – but make sure the doctor knows this is a good emergency!

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