NORMAN — Dear Savvy Senior,Can lifting weights help with age-related health problems? At age 70, I have diabetes, arthritis and osteoporosis and recently read that strength training could improve my conditions. What can you tell me?
Looking for Help
A growing body of research shows that strength training exercises can have a profound impact on a person’s health as they age — and you’re never too old to start.
Regular strength training, done at least two nonconsecutive days a week, helps you build muscle strength, increases your bone density and improves your balance, coordination and stamina. It also can help reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions like arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, back pain, depression and obesity. And some studies even show that it helps improve cognitive function, too.
For the most part, strength training exercises — especially if you start conservatively and progress slowly — are safe for most seniors, even those with serious health conditions. But, if you have health concerns or if you are currently inactive, you should talk to your doctor about what may be appropriate for you. A good self-help resource to help you find an appropriate, safe exercise program is the “Exercise and Screening for You” tool at easyforyou.info.
If you’ve never done strength training exercises before, you may want to work with a personal trainer for a few sessions to help you develop a safe and effective routine you can continue on your own. They cost anywhere from $20 to $100 per hour. To find one, ask your health care provider or contact a good health club or fitness facility in your area. You also can search for one online at reputable sites like acefitness.org or ideafit.com.
If personal training isn’t an option, there are lots of great senior strength training videos you can purchase to guide you through a wide variety of exercises that you can do at home. Collage Video (collagevideo.com, 800-819-7111) sells dozens of age and fitness appropriate DVD’s at prices usually ranging between $10 and $20.