Everyone wants to find a magic bullet that can slow down the aging process and help them
become stronger and healthier. But the answer is really more of a heavy lift… it’s strength
Current physical activity guidelines for Americans advise adults to get 150 minutes of
moderate-intensity physical activity, including two days of muscle strengthening activity per
week. Maybe you are already lifting some weights at the gym on a semi-regular basis.
But according to recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly a
third of U.S. adults aged 50 and older don’t get enough physical activity or are physically
inactive. And inactivity was 30 percent higher among those with a chronic disease, although
many chronic conditions among adults 50 years or older can be prevented or managed with
So, it might be time to lift something heavy once in a while, says Brock Armstrong, a fitness
coach, podcaster and writer for Quick and Dirty Tips, Scientific American and Second Wind
“Everyone from children to seniors can benefit from engaging in some type of heavy lifting,”
Armstrong says in his podcast, So Many Reasons to Lift Heavy Things. “Of course, kids, older
folks, and anyone with conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, obesity, or cardiovascular
disease risk factors will need to be more particular and mindful. But the fact is that we are all
capable of training with some form of resistance.”
Regular strength training has many benefits, Armstrong says, including building muscle, losing
fat, burning more calories, improving brain health, improving joint health, increasing bone
density, lowering blood pressure, improving endurance, helping mental health, managing
chronic pain, and slowing the aging process.
According to the CDC, strength training doesn’t just translate into using weight machines or
lifting handheld weights. You can also build strength by:
-Working out with stretchy resistance bands
-Performing weight bearing exercises like push-ups or pull-ups, squats, lunges and planks
-Doing some heaving gardening, like digging or shoveling
-Practicing some types of yoga or tai chi.
If you are new to strength training, start slow and learn from a pro, if possible. First, make sure
your doctor okays strength training, especially if you have any health concerns. Meet with the
trainer at your gym, watch some how-to videos, get a fitness coach, or search some online
resources to find a beginner workout that looks interesting.
Check out Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults from the CDC for more
information, workouts, logs, resources and more.
Muscle for Life by Mike Matthews
Fit at Any Age; It’s Never Too Late by Susan Niebergall
January 6, 2023