By Susan Ciancio
Are you hoping to live a long, healthy life where you feel energetic and strong into your octogenarian years? If so, read on because we explain how you can use strength training to not only build muscle but to care for your entire body—and add healthy years to your life.
Strength training—known also as resistance training—is any exercise that uses resistance to build muscles. You can do this with free weights or weight machines, resistance bands, and you can use your own body weight by performing activities such as yoga, planking, and squats.
A good strength training program should target every major muscle group—including those in the back, chest, shoulders, abdomen, in your arms and legs, and your glutes—to push, lift, or pull.
Strength training is crucial as we age because, according to the National Institute on Aging, muscle mass and strength increase from the time we are born until they peak about the age of 35. From that point on, they begin to decline. So if we don’t continually strengthen our muscles, they become weak.
Strength training has more benefits than you probably know. A study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2022 reported that “muscle-strengthening activities were associated with a 10-17% lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD), total cancer, diabetes and lung cancer.”
But strength training offers additional benefits as well. It reduces body fat and builds lean muscle mass. It increases strength and endurance and improves flexibility. Strength training also helps manage glucose levels and can help reduce levels of chronic inflammation in your body. It promotes heart health, and it aids in bone health, which is vital as you age. As many older people know, osteoporosis—a loss of bone mineral density—is very common after the age of 50. Because strength training improves bone strength, bones are less brittle and less likely to break.
Strength training is even beneficial for brain health. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, “One study looked at 970 people living in senior communities who had no evidence of cognitive decline. Researchers put the subjects through a series of strength tests, measuring their upper and lower extremities. Over the next 3.6 years, 15 percent of the subjects developed Alzheimer’s disease. But their risk was strongly determined by where they fell on the strength scale: For every 1 point increase in muscle strength, a subject’s risk of Alzheimer’s dropped by 43 percent.”
With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why we should work strength training into our weekly routines.
So how often should we do strength training? Everyday Health explained recent research, which found that thirty minutes to an hour of strength training each week produced the most benefits in terms of longevity. The study also found that participants who performed any type of strength training “had a 15 percent lower risk of premature death from all causes” and that “weight training was linked to a 10 to 17 percent lower chance of early death from diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.” Further, there was “a 10 to 20 percent reduction in the risk of early death from all causes and from cancer and heart disease” with just 30-60 minutes a week.
We know that this has likely gotten you excited and that you’re wondering how to start. It’s easy! And there are so many options! If you want to begin at home, you can buy a set of dumbbells and some bands. Adding planks, squats, or some yoga to your daily routine will help. But of course most people do not have varied weight sets or weight machines in their homes. That’s where F45 comes in! F45 has great strength-training workouts, and during the workouts, our coaches are there to teach you and make sure you’re doing them correctly so you don’t damage your muscles.
The National Institute on Aging reports that “about 30% of adults over age 70 have trouble with walking, getting up out of a chair, or climbing stairs. In addition to making everyday tasks difficult, mobility limitations are also linked to higher rates of falls, chronic disease, nursing home admission, and mortality.”
Don’t let this be you! Take steps now to care for your future body. Just thirty minutes to an hour a week can make a huge difference in your quality—and quantity—of life.