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Strength training is the set of exercises that use resistance to induce muscular contractions. These movements increase the size, strength and endurance of the muscles. Strength training is proven to benefit your overall health and well-being in many different ways: increases bone/muscle/tendon and ligament strength and toughness, improves joint function, reduces potential for injury, increases bone density, increases metabolism, increases fitness, improves cardiac function, improves cholesterol levels, improves posture and prevents muscle loss. One great side effect of any intense exercise is increased levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which can help to improve mood and counter feelings of depression.
Exercise to remediate impaired endurance, joint dysfunction, and impaired mobility is a mainstay of physical therapy practice for older adults. Common modes of exercise include aerobic, strengthening, and balance/flexibility programs. In the past 20 years, much has been learned about the benefits of strengthening. Muscle weakness, termed sarcopenia and dynapenia, is a normal age-related phenomenon, occurring at a rate of 1% to 5% annually from the age of 30. This rate means that given the typical patterns of physical activity, a 70-year old woman could have 50% to 70% less strength than she had at age 30. The rate of strength decline is dependent on age and physical activity.
Those who are physically inactive lose muscle mass and strength more quickly than active individuals who participate in strength training. After the age of 60, power decreases even more rapidly at a rate of 3% to 5% annually, affecting the ability to move and react quickly. Diminished power and strength affect function and can be a leading cause of nursing home admission and falls, further forcing sedentary habits. The vicious cycle of inactivity and diminished power and strength in turn promote further weakness and loss of power causing further functional disability. Critical to keeping older adults independent in the community and avoiding nursing home placement is breaking this cycle of decreased muscle mass/strength/power, inactivity, and functional decline. Therefore, effective strengthening practices must be employed by physical therapy/strength training personnel to maintain the highest level of function and achieve optimal aging. Contact team BMR and find out how we can help you or your loved ones get in better shape and improve functional outcomes.