Getting Older, Staying Stronger Over 40
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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