As you age, it’s fairly common to experience muscle loss, which can lead to a decrease of strength. And that makes it harder to take part in many daily activities, even simple ones such as walking and climbing stairs. However, according to experts, progressive-resistance strength training can help counteract the muscle loss that many people just accept as a natural part of aging.
With progressive-resistance strength training, you exercise your muscles against some type of resistance — such as lifting weights — and gradually increase the load or number of repetitions as you become stronger. The resistance can be from free weights, weight machines, elastic bands or your own body weight — like doing pushups. This type of strength training can also reduce your risk of obesity, heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, low back pain and depression.
If you have high blood pressure, heart or blood-vessel disease, arthritis, or another serious illness, talk to your doctor before starting a strength-training program. Otherwise, try these tips.
- Learn about proper technique for using free weights or weight machines. Work with a trainer virtually for tips — many offer free consultations.
- Do strength training two to three times a week, but not two days in a row.
- Exercise all your major muscles. Use enough resistance that your muscles are tired after eight to 12 repetitions. When this becomes easy, you can vary the type of resistance exercise you do, lift heavier weights, add a second set of repetitions or add a third day of training each week.
Stop exercising if you become dizzy or excessively short of breath or you experience chest discomfort or sharp pain in your muscles or joints.