Is Weight Training Safe For Older Adults?
I have had the pleasure of training some of the same clients for fifteen to twenty years. These students have been in my group fitness classes where we focused on training all the components of fitness: cardiovascular health, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility.
In my opinion, lifting weights is the key to remaining functionally fit into our later years because we need to maintain a certain level of strength and endurance to be able to remain active and independent. I realize that some critics of weight lifting argue against it claiming that it can do more harm than good, however I believe that the problem can lie with the trainer, not the activity. Your personal trainer/ coach needs to ensure that the programs are well balanced, safe and include an equal amount of flexibility training. The intensity and level of difficulty should progress gradually and you should be able to see an improvement within a prescribed amount of time.
My clients, whose average age is 70, have never stopped lifting weights and they are in fantastic shape. They have great posture and endless energy. Many began training with me in their late fifties or early sixties and they all look ten years younger than their peers who do not train regularly. They have a bounce in their step and have no trouble getting out of their chairs or up off of the floor. Many of my clients take care of their grandchildren and often have to carry them or lift strollers etc. A number of them also care for their aged parent or spouse, so there is a real need to maintain their muscular strength and endurance.
Yesterday, I asked Robert Linkul, a Personal Trainer who specializes in training older adults, to speak to my Virtual Fitness Studio students about the success he has had helping his clients recover from injuries and physical limitations with regular weight training.
Robert has a Masters degree in Personal Training and a Bachelors in Kinesiology and he is the founder of TOA-Training The Older Adult, https://www.trainingtheolderadult.com/ an online educational platform for trainers. Robert stated that our greatest concern when it comes to aging is threefold; sarcopenia, osteoporosis and arthritis. Most of us are familiar with the later two but sarcopenia, or loss of muscle mass due to inactivity, is something that is just as worrisome.
Robert's passion stems from helping his clients achieve their goals. Joyce Johnson, 83 years old, used to use a walker but after only 8 months of regular training under Robert's guidance, is now able to walk on her own. Joyce can perform a sit stand test while holding weight and even more importantly, has reduced her 'Fall Risk' by 30%.
Susan Knapp, 80 years old, has scoliosis and low back pain and was told by her doctor that she will never walk well again and that she should never lift anything heavy. Robert helped her to improve her strength to the point where she can now deadlift 100 lbs. For those not familiar with the term deadlift, just imagine that you have to pick something up off of the floor by bending forward and you will understand this success. While it might not be necessary to lift something so heavy, the important thing is that Susan is still capable of lifting, which will enable her to remain independent for much longer.
Linda Kelly, 72 years old, was told that she needed knee replacements in 2010. She had lots of pain and had a very low quality of life as a result. Over the last 16 years, Robert was able to help Linda improve her bone density by 10-12% with weight training. She leads a very active life and still has her original knees!
My goal in introducing Robert and his clients to my Virtual Fitness Students was to highlight the benefits of weight lifting. Well designed muscle conditioning programs can improve our sport performance, help us to continue our favorite activities like cycling and skiing and they can help us to heal from injury. I will continue to offer weight lifting classes in my studio as a way to maintain and improve muscle mass so that my students can continue to enjoy their active lives.
You can reach out to me for assistance by booking a Virtual Coffee here: https://calendly.com/betholdfield-fitness-talks/free-virtual-coffee-15-minutes?month=2021-10
You can follow Robert on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/robertlinkul/
See you soon,