As we age, we begin to naturally lose muscle mass. Once simple tasks often become a challenge the older we get. Strength training does what walking and aerobic exercise does not; it makes your muscles strong.  For every decade of life after age 30, we experience a 3-8 percent loss of lean muscle (Duffy, 2012). It is so gradual it goes unnoticed but if unchecked, it can lead to a decline in strength, balance and flexibility. Strength training is not just for body builders! We all benefit from strength training for muscle and bone health. Inactivity increases with age. By age 75, about 1 in 3 men and 1 in 2 women engage in no physical activity whatsoever (NY State: Office of Aging). The first thing you notice is less strength. If muscle mass is lost for many years, it can eventually impact balance and result in falls. Strength training helps gain muscle mass back and has benefits including increasing bone density and strength, controlling body fat, boosting stamina, improving sleep and maintaining or increasing strength.
The old saying “no pain, no gain” is not necessarily true. When doing a new activity or increasing intensity, a little muscle soreness may be expected, however soreness and pain are not the same thing. If you are experiencing pain during or after physical activity, listen to your body and stop doing that exercise. Allow yourself to work up to 30 minutes or more of daily exercise; you do not have to push yourself to the extreme to benefit from exercise.
The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines say that beginners should do strength training exercises at least two days a week. It is best to do 8-12 repetitions each of 8-10 different exercises working all of the major muscle groups. This mean working the muscles in your chest, back, shoulders, arms, abdomen and legs (webmd.com).
MU Extension offers a strength training class for older adults called Stay Strong, Stay Healthy. An eight-week strength training program designed for middle-aged and older adults, the program includes 16 one-hour classes that meet two times a week. It is being offered Tuesdays and Thursdays starting Tuesday, February 6 through Thursday, March 29, 2018 at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 1700 Bagnell Dam Boulevard, Lake Ozark 9-10 a.m. Pre-registration is required. Cost is $40 per participant. To sign up, call MU Extension in Camden County, 573-346-2644 or email camdenco@missouri.edu