Getting Older, Staying Stronger Over
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Its no secret that aerobic exercise
is a life extender and disease preventer. Armed with that knowledge, hordes of
older Americans have hit the pavement with walking programs or put in their
time on stationary cycles. Theyre all healthier for it.
But, what about building muscle? Once men
hit middle age, they tend to shy away from strength training. But, older men
stand to gain all the benefits from a stronger physique that younger men do:
better overall health, improved posture, more power and stamina, a more
attractive and younger-looking body and, perhaps most important of all, a
bolstered self-image that translates into confidence.
Strength training adds years to your life.
Its been proven again and again. However, the main reason people in their
40s and 50s should train isnt for the length of their life but for the
quality of it. Its one thing to live to be 90, but if youre feeble
and helpless, youre not going to enjoy those years. Strength training
beats aging by making life worth living longer.
Muscles are as able to respond to training
in the fifth and sixth decades of life as they are in the third and fourth.
Aging doesnt cause significant muscle cell loss, as much as cellular
atrophy (diminished density). So, since the object of weight training is to
increase the size of muscle cells and not the number, you have virtually as
much muscle to work at age 50 as you did at 25.
Of course, not everybody pushing 40 has
been working out regularly throughout life, and many are concerned that budding
middle age is not a safe time to start. It's recommended that men over 35 check
with their doctor before starting up an exercise program. It is true that the
risks of injury or complications are greater after that age -- especially if
you train incorrectly.
What weight training really does is allow
you to make a statement about what your life is going to be like as time
passes. Most age-related sacrifices are the result of falling for false notions
of what you can or cant do as you get older. The best example of this is
allowing your muscles to weaken because of the myth that theres nothing
you can do about it.
Everybody has his own physical potential at
any age, and the closer you get to it, the better your life will be. If
youre 48 and youre hesitant about strength training because
in two years Ill be 50, for heavens sake, youre
cheating yourself. In two years, youre going to be 50 no matter what.
Its a question of what kind of 50 you want to be.
Eston R. Dunn recently received his
Master's in Health Science from Stafford University. Eston has been in exercise
videos and is certified in exercise leadership/weight-room training through the
Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), personal training through
the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and health-fitness instruction from the
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).