A Year of Heavy Lifting Brings Lasting Health Benefits

Weighted exercises showed the greatest impact for recently retired healthy people, a new study showed. Edwin Tan/E+/Getty Images

A new study shows that 1 year of this kind of exercise yields results 4 years later

Skip your gym and do these 6 body-weight exercises at home
05:16 – Source: CNN

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Retirement should be a time for loved ones, relaxation, and—according to new research—heavy lifting.

As people age, their skeletal muscle function declines, a study published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine revealed on Tuesday.

“If you do resistance training at this age, benefits in some parameters may last several years,” said lead study author Mads Bloch-Ibenfeldt, a doctoral student at the Institute of Sports Medicine at Bispebjerg Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark.

To explore the long-term benefits of resistance exercise, researchers conducted a randomized control trial with 369 recently retired and healthy adults aged 64 to 75.

Resistance Training Benefits

The participants were assigned to one of three exercise programs for a year. They either lifted weights three times a week, did moderate-intensity training using body weight and resistance bands three times a week, or maintained their usual exercise routines.

Researchers measured their bone and muscle strength and body fat levels at the start, end of the one-year program, and then two and four years later. It was up to the individuals whether they continued their strength training regimen or reverted to their normal exercise level.

Resistance training with heavy loads yielded the most significant long-lasting benefit in leg strength. Four years after the training, their leg strength remained unaltered, whereas the moderate-intensity group experienced a decrease, though it wasn’t significant.

“Exercise is critically important across the lifespan. This study shows that engaging in activity later in life, around retirement, can lead to marked health benefits,” said Dr. John Batsis, a geriatrician and associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who was not involved in the research.

Weighted exercises had the greatest impact for recently retired healthy individuals, the study showed.

What Counts as Resistance Training?

Exercise encompasses aerobic, resistance, flexibility, and balance activities, Batsis said.

“Each of these has important consequences on overall health (including cognition) and physical function if one regularly performs them or does not,” Batsis said in an email.

Resistance training involves exercises that improve strength by making muscles work against a force, explained CNN fitness contributor Dana Santas, a mind-body coach for professional athletes.

That force can include weights, resistance bands, or body weight—such as with pushups or squats, she added.

“For older adults, resistance training is crucial for maintaining muscle mass, bone density, and mobility,” Santas emphasized.

Home Workouts

One limitation of the exercise proposed in the study is that the weighted exercises were done at a gym, which not everyone has the time, money, or transportation to access, Batsis noted.

While consulting a certified trainer or physical therapist is recommended to ensure safe exercise, there are effective workouts that can be done at home, Santas suggested.

For older adults, strengthening in ways that support functional movements of everyday living is important, she added.

Santas recommends box squats, where you sit lightly on a chair seat and stand back up. If you don’t need to hold the arms of the chair for support, add dumbbells.

The added weight provides additional resistance and improves grip strength, essential for functional independence and a marker for heart health, she said.

Increasing strength in functional movements, protecting knee joints, and preventing injury can also be achieved by placing a resistance band around both legs and performing side steps, side lunges, or reverse lunges.

Try to do two or three sets of eight to twelve reps of each activity a couple of times a week, Santas advised.

Regular exercise maintenance and other health factors are crucial for independence later in life, Batsis added.

“The basics of lifestyle changes, including nutrition and exercise, are a major key to healthy aging,” he concluded.

#HealthyAging #ResistanceTraining #RetirementFitness #StrengthTraining #LongTermHealth

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