According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “One in three adults 65 and older falls each year.” The majority of hospital admissions for the elderly, in fact, are due to fall-related injuries. Interestingly, a majority of these falls could have been induced, however, if more seniors realized that they could reverse this trend through bodybuilding.
It’s Never too Late!
Aging has, historically, been viewed as an inevitable (and often rapid) slide into infirmity and muscular atrophy. Consequently, many seniors have convinced themselves that they must “slow down” with age, that too much activity might lead to accidents and premature death. But the more that they have “slowed down,” the higher their chances of demoralizing (and often crippling) falls has become.
Experts would say “no.” A study at Colorado State University, for instance, found that two of the most significant reasons why seniors fall are diminished bone density (osteoporosis) and lack of muscle tone. Studies have shown that both of these conditions can be preceded or improved by regular exercise, particularly weight bearing exercises. Moreover, these studies have found that anyone can start bodybuilding at any age and at any fitness level and still increase their muscle mass and their strength.
Benefits of Bodybuilding for the Elderly
Studies have shown that weight bearing exercises benefit the health of seniors in many ways. In general (and for everyone) bodybuilding has been shown to:
· Increase muscle mass
· Increase bone density and strengthen bones
· Improve balance
Seniors can particularly benefit from bodybuilding, as it will partially reverse the slide into diminished muscle strength and bone density.
Bodybuilding at any Age
In order to reap the health benefits of bodybuilding, however, there are a few rules that seniors should follow:
Start slow. Slowly building up to a desired fitness level is not only good advice for everyone, but it is particularly important for seniors. Injuries than can accrue from too much exercise, too soon, can be particularly severe-and often permanent-for seniors. For that reason, experts recommend that seniors new to weight lifting exercise for only about five or ten minutes at a time, at a low-to-moderate pace with light weights when first listening an exercise program. They should then gradually increase the time and the intensity of the exercises as their bodies become stronger and more able to cope with greater exertion, higher heart rates and prolonged training intervals.
Warm up / Cool down. The benefits of a good warm up and cool down period during an exercise program can not be overemphasized. Research has shown that a period of gentle stretching before performing the major exercises (the warm up) can prevent injuries by warming and preparing the muscles for the forthcoming exercise. Walking and gentle stretching after the actual exercise period (the cool down) asserts the body to adjust to the cessation of exercise. This is especially important for the aged, as their bodies take longer to adjust as compared to younger exercisers.
Drink sufficient water. Drinking sufficient amounts of water during exercise is necessary to replenish the fluids lost via increased perspiration. Furthermore, seniors have a higher risk of dehydration, so they should be especially diligent, making sure to drink continuously during their routines.
These rules should help seniors to ease into a bodybuilding routine that is both safe and healthy.
The research is clear-bodybuilding at any age is acceptable (and even recommended) for most of the population. For seniors, however, this research has proven that those golden years need not be an inevitable slide into infirmity and muscular atrophy, and that it’s never too late to start bodybuilding at any age.