An Inspiring Story of Strength Training at Age 70
Joan MacDonald had always had a moderately active lifestyle but, at 70, she knew she needed to make a change. She had arthritis, ankles that were constantly swollen and was on medication for high blood pressure and acid reflux. She was exhausted and knew her health was declining. With the help of her daughter, a personal trainer, Joan finally found the motivation to get her health back on track.
She bought a measuring tape, a food scale, and renewed her membership at the gym. Her first several sessions at the gym were brutal but as she slowly ramped up her exercise routine, she started noticing positive changes. After a few months, she upped her weight training to 5 days per week including 2 leg days, 2 upper body days and 1 glute day. Within the first month, she had lost 10 lbs and inches all around her body.
She made diet changes as well, eating five meals a day with a focus on balancing her macros (protein, carbs and fats). She prioritized eating slowly, drinking plenty of water, and stuck closely to her given ratios of macros. As her balance and flexibility improved, Joan worked up to more advanced exercises like deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, and hip thrusts.
After ten months of her diet and exercise routine, she was off all medications and had lost almost 42 pounds! Even in the midst of a busy schedule and personal loss, Joan has been able to maintain her sustainable new lifestyle. It’s amazing to see how strength training transformed her body and life, even though she didnt start till she was in her 70s.
How to Start A Strength Training Routine
Inspired by Joan’s story? She shows us that it’s never too late to start lifting weights and that it can have profound health benefits for older adults! Whether an elderly person is living in a memory care community, assisted living, or an Alzheimer’s care community, exercise is an important aspect to a healthy lifestyle.
What are some of the most important factors to keep in mind when starting a new strength training routine?
- Be kind to your joints: The regenerative potential of strength training can’t be overstated. It’s important to perform full range of motion movements so that your body can learn to control your muscles while moving. Rather than using machines at the gym, use dumbbells to perform functional movements like squats, deadlifts, and lunges. Stop if anything hurts.
- Train at least twice per week: Unfortunately, muscle loss increases exponentially as we age. After 50, you lose 1-2% of muscle mass per year. After 60, the average is around 3%. Strength training helps regain lost muscle and slows cell aging. It’s VITAL for older adults to incorporate it into their exercise routines.
- Start with bodyweight exercises: To avoid injuries, become comfortable performing movements without weights to learn proper form.
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