Not Keen on Getting Older? Resist it!
Chances are, you know her: the woman who exudes confidence and style, makes everything look easy and enjoyable, even though she may be twice your age. You strive to become this warrior in 10, 20 or 30 years. Or perhaps you are this woman; if so (you go girl!) – you’re an inspiration to everyone around you!
No matter if you are just beginning a workout routine or you tackle the circuit like a seasoned pro, by strength training, you are maintaining your vitality. Studies show the anti-aging effects of resistance training are vast—improved balance, stronger muscles, a sharper mind, and even a longer life. Here’s some of the science behind the anti-aging benefits of strength:
Body Build for Balance
It’s a fate none of us can escape, not even the woman we idolize. As we grow older, our muscles get weaker. Loss of strength in our upper body makes it harder to do things like carry a heavy suitcase or open a jar. Weakened lower body muscles affect balance and increase risk of falls. By keeping the muscles in your legs and glutes toned, you can improve your stability. In a study1 published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, researchers assigned 50 people between the ages of 65 and 82 to either a strength training group or a control group. For 12 weeks, the strength training group performed leg extension and lower curl exercises, gradually increasing the intensity as the weeks went on. At the end of the study, the strength training group had significantly improved lower limb strength and balance compared to their levels at the beginning of the 12 weeks.
Pump it Up to Prevent Disease
By strengthening your muscles, you can bolster your resistance to chronic disease. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health and Harvard Medical School used a survey2 to examine the exercise habits of nearly 36,000 women ages 47 to 98. In one question, they asked how much strength training the women had done per week over the past 12 months. The researchers then tracked which women developed type 2 diabetes, as well as which of them went on to develop heart disease or stroke. The women who engaged in strength training in any capacity had lower body mass indexes, ate healthier diets and were less likely to smoke than the women who reported never picking up a weight. In terms of disease, the resistance training women had a 30 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes and 17 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who did not strength train.
Strength Train to Stay Sharp
The brain reacts similarly to a muscle when it comes to resistance training—it gets stronger. So, our “youthful” older woman is probably just as toned mentally as she is physically. In a 2016 study3 published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers looked at 68 women and 32 men between the ages of 55 and 86 who suffered from mild cognitive impairment. Half of the participants engaged in weight training twice a week for six months, and the other half did stretching exercises. All participants took a cognitive test at the beginning of the study, the end of the study, and 12 months after the study. The strength training group did the best on the test, scoring significantly higher at the end of the study than at the start. They also retained the same gain 12 months later. Another important note: those who experienced the biggest boosts in strength also saw the largest improvements in their test scores. In contrast, the stretching group saw declines in their cognitive performance between the study’s beginning and end.
Lift for Longevity
In addition to improving your quality of life, resistance training helps you live longer. In a study4 done at Penn State University, researchers found people over 65 who strength trained twice a week cut their risk of death by nearly one-half. For the study, which was published in Preventive Medicine, researchers examined 30, 162 adults over age 65. During the study period, which lasted from 1997 and 2001, 9.6 percent of the participants strength trained, and 31.6 percent died. Those who strength trained at least twice a week were 46 percent less likely to die from any cause; 41 percent less likely to die from a heart problem; and 19 percent less likely to die from cancer than those who didn’t strength train.
So, now you have some added inspiration to throw a few more reps during your Curves workout. When you strengthen your muscles, you toughen your body, mind and spirit. Better strength equals a more balanced, healthier, happier you. To inspire you even more, here are some real-life success stories of Curves members who turned into the women they’ve always wanted to be.