Lifting weights is completed by only a minority of people aged over 65. Whilst many still keep themselves active through other hobbies; resistance training offers some bonus benefits which can help older individuals to age better.
Did you know that over the age of 40, we typically lose around 5% of our muscle mass per decade? Whilst it is possible to still build muscle as we get older, it does become more difficult.
Older individuals that lift weights typically see a maintenance or increase in muscle mass. They also see improvements in strength, power, mobility, balance and mental sharpness. Being stronger makes completing everyday tasks easier, reduces injury risk and can reduce the risk of injuries from falling. It also protects your joints and improves metabolic functioning.
So, with all these amazing benefits, why do more people over 65 not do it?
It has been found that the biggest barriers to participating in weight lifting are;
Lack of motivation
Lack of knowledge
Lack of planning
Knowing where to go
Knowing how to do it
Not having anyone to do it with
A Study conducted in 2018, looked at a group of 65-74 year olds participating in a nine month supervised strength training program. One group completed a 60 minute session 1x weekly, another 2x weekly and another 3x weekly.
At the end of the study, the groups were followed up at 6 and 12 monthly intervals, to see if they had continued weight training. In total, 54% of all participants admitted to not continuing. However, 24% of those who completed the sessions 2x weekly continued with their program, the highest out of the 3 groups.
Considering there is currently only a tiny percentage of weight lifting older adults, this is quite a significant finding.
Furthermore, the biggest predictor to continuing with the program was an increase in self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation. Simply put, the more confident people felt with their program, the more likely they were to continue with it.
Twice weekly was also thought to be an achievable benchmark. You’ll be pleased to hear that this is also the proven minimum frequency needed to see changes and growth in muscle mass over time. If you can manage two weight training sessions per week – lifting fairly heavy and with good form – you can potentially see significant benefits in your quality of life!
If you think this is something for you – find someone who can help you. Whether that is a friend or a personal trainer. Make sure you feel happy and confident with the techniques and the watch the results happen.