Lifting weights does have an effect on your joints if you are over 50, but probably not in the way you think. Most people think that lifting weights is only for young people and when you reach over the hill your training should be reserved to the elliptical or the treadmill. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and in reality the older you are the more important and beneficial lifting weights and resistance training can be. When performed under the watchful eye of a professional coach and in a structured training program, lifting weight will actually help REDUCE joint pain. Here are 6 reasons why:
1. Mobility. Performing loaded movements to full range of motion is a great way to increase our joints ability to move more freely. Motion is lotion, and functional weightlifting movements have been proven to reverse the effects and reduce pain from arthritis.
2. Bone Density. Weightlifting is proven to help improve bone density and decrease your risk for osteoporosis. This is especially important for women who typically lose bone density much quicker than men. Walking on the treadmill for hours just ain’t gonna cut it!
3. Strengthen Muscles Around Joints. Building muscle around achy joints helps support the joint, reduce risk for future injury, and decrease pain.
4. Weight Loss. Strength training helps aid in fat loss and improved lean body mass. By shedding excess body fat, we are able to decrease the load that our joints have to support on a daily basis and this will help decrease joint pain.
5. Maintain Muscle Mass. As we age, testosterone decreases and it becomes harder and harder to maintain and build lean tissue. We also will begin to lose muscle mass as we get older in a process called sarcopenia. Weight lifting at any age will help slow the process of sarcopenia and the breakdown of muscle tissue.
6. Live Longer. Strength means independence. The stronger you are the more capable you are of taking care of yourself well into your 90’s and beyond. Once your strength is gone, you become sedentary which will quickly lead to a host of other health issues. To quote famous strength coach Mark Rippetoe, “Stronger people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general.”
Now I understand if you are brand new to strength training it can be a bit intimidating. You walk into your traditional gym full of rows of weight and machines and you have no idea where to start. No matter your age, the key to maximizing the benefits of strength training is to make sure that you are performing movement patterns safely before increasing load or intensity. This is where the importance of hiring a coach comes in.
At Townie we preach to our clients, Technique, Consistency, then and only then do we add Intensity. What that means is that first we want to teach you the proper technique with light weight or no weight at all. Then we want you to consistently perform that movement over and over again until you have mastered how to perform the movement safely. Finally, if you have the first two checked off, then we can begin to push intensity by increasing load or speed. A coach ensures that you don’t skip any steps and gradually increase load and intensity as you get stronger.