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How strength training can change the trajectory of physical decline with age

Raise your hand if you regularly find yourself walking up a flight of stairs. What about carrying heavy bags of groceries? How about picking up your child or grandchild? Many of us would raise our hands to doing at least one of those weekly, or even daily.

As people age, it can become more and more difficult to perform some physical tasks, even those that are normal activities of daily living. However, prioritizing physical fitness and health as you get older can help you go through your normal day-to-day routine without feeling physically exhausted at the end of the day.

It can also help you continue to have special memories with your family and loved ones that you might not have been able to have if you weren’t physically active. For example, I ran two half-marathons with my dad when he was in his 60s!

From left are the author’s father, who was age 61 at the time, the author’s wife and the author after completing the Lincoln Half Marathon. Photo credit Zachary Gillen, CC BY-NC-ND

I am an exercise physiologist who studies how people can use resistance training to improve human performance, whether it be in sports and other recreational settings, in everyday life, or both. I am also a certified strength and conditioning specialist. My career has given me the opportunity to design exercise programs for kids, college athletes and elderly adults.

Staying physically active as you get older doesn’t need to include running a half-marathon or trying to be a bodybuilder; it could be as simple as trying to get through the day without feeling winded after you go up a flight of stairs. Although our muscles naturally get weaker as we age, there are ways we can combat that to help improve quality of life as we get older.

Muscle Loss and Chronic Disease

One of the most important parts of exercise programming, no matter who I am working with, is proper resistance training to build muscle strength. Some amount of age-related loss of muscle function is normal and inevitable. But by incorporating resistance training that

Author
Stuart Lerner, MD

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