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Importance of Strength Training As We Age

October 26, 20233 min read

Personal Training In Stittsville

Exercise as We Age: The Crucial Role of Movement in Longevity

The potent relationship between movement and the human body is a truth universally acknowledged. While the spectrum of physical exercise is vast and varied, its importance becomes even more pronounced as we move through the chapters of life. In the words of movement and physical therapy pioneer, Dr. Kelly Starrett, “Your body is an adaptation machine." But what does it adapt to, especially as we age?

The Aging Body Without Exercise: A Silent Crisis

As we age, a natural decline occurs in various physiological functions, leading to an increased vulnerability to diseases, loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia), reduced bone density, and joint stiffness. Without exercise, these changes not only occur at a faster rate, but they can also lead to the following:

1. Reduced Cardiovascular Health: As sedentary behavior sets in, our heart and blood vessels suffer. We become more susceptible to conditions such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and stroke.

2. Decreased Cognitive Function: A lack of physical activity has been linked to cognitive decline and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Compromised Mobility: Without regular movement, our joints lose their fluidity and muscles weaken, making everyday activities like walking or even standing a challenge.

Yet, it's not just about the overt consequences. At a microscopic level, not engaging our muscles can alter cellular functions, exacerbating inflammatory responses and oxidative stress, gateways to chronic diseases.

The Transformative Power of Exercise

Now, let's flip the narrative. How does exercise function as the elixir of youth and longevity?

1. Preservation of Muscle Mass: Strength training is paramount. It counters sarcopenia by stimulating muscle protein synthesis, ensuring our muscles remain robust and functional.

2. Increased Bone Density: Weight-bearing exercises like walking, running, or lifting weights can increase bone mineral density, a protective shield against osteoporosis.

3. Enhanced Mobility: Regular movement maintains the health of our joints. By engaging in mobility exercises and stretching, we keep our joints lubricated and our tissues supple.

4. Cognitive Health: Aerobic exercise enhances blood flow to the brain, supporting cognitive function. This, in turn, can delay or prevent cognitive decline.

5. Improved Mood and Mental Health: Beyond the physical realm, exercise releases endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. It becomes a therapeutic tool to combat depression, anxiety, and age-related stress.

Drawing from Starrett’s philosophy, movement isn't just about avoiding the bad; it's about chasing the good. It’s about reclaiming your body’s natural ability to heal, regenerate, and thrive.

The Way Forward

So, where do we start? The answer lies in consistency and variety. Incorporate a mix of aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balance exercises. Be it a 10-minute walk, a yoga class, or lifting weights, the key is to find what resonates with you and stick with it.

Age is just a number, and with proactive choices, it can represent wisdom, experience, and resilience. As we navigate the journey of aging, let movement be our compass, guiding us to health, vitality, and longevity. Remember, in the eloquent words of Dr. Kelly Starrett, "Every human being should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves." Exercise is that maintenance, especially as we age. Embrace it.

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