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Pumping Iron Does an Aging Body (and Brain) Good

Good for the Brain

A study in British Columbia compared two groups of women between ages 65 and 75. One group did strength training with weight machines or dumbbells once or twice a week. The other did toning and balance exercises. After a year, tests showed the first group had improved cognitive functions such as focus, conflict resolution and decision making by 13 percent. The scores of the toning and balance group fell slightly over the same period.

  • Increases function in the temporal lobe which is where sensory memory is stored as well as improving long term memory by up to 10%.

  • Reduces impairment of brain cells and loss of coordination for patients with Parkinson’s disease.

  • Helps prevent & treat dementia, Alzheimer’s and brain aging

  • Reduces sensitivity to stress, depression and anxiety

  • Improves learning and mental performance

  • Increases confidence

Blood Sugar

From the National Council on Aging

For people with diabetes, regular strength training can:

1. Help you use insulin more effectively. When you do strength training exercises that target muscles, your body uses glucose from your bloodstream to power them, which can help clear out excess sugar from your system Toned muscles store glucose more effectively, and that helps regulate blood sugar even when you’re at rest. The more efficient your muscles are at using glucose, the less insulin you need.

2. Lower your blood sugar. Strength training also allows your muscles to absorb more glucose. That means there’s less glucose circulating in your bloodstream while you're exercising and after.

3. Build muscle that can lead to weight loss. “The more you keep your muscles exercising, the more calories you will burn, the more calories you burn, the more weight you can lose. Strength training also increases the rate at which you burn calories even when you’re not exercising.

4. Lower the risk for heart disease. A regular exercise routine that includes strength training can help lower several risk factors related to heart disease, including obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association.

Bones & Arthritis

Strength training is the best way for women to protect their bodies against osteoporosis. In addition to strengthening your bone mass, lifting weights combats the natural loss of muscle mass. As we age, our bodies lose over 25 percent of our muscle mass, which can lead to difficulties performing daily tasks, poor posture and low metabolism.

  • Stronger muscles, less joint pain

  • Lifting weights or resistance training offers numerous benefits to help manage arthritis pain. Exercise keeps muscles around affected joints strong, lubricates joints, decreases bone loss and helps control joint swelling and pain.

  • If you have osteoarthritis, exercise may be the single most effective non-drug treatment you can do for your body.

From the Arthritis foundation


Falls are a leading cause of injury and mortality in older adults Approximately one in three people aged 65 years or older will fall at least once per year, and the risk of falling increases with age. There is strong evidence that appropriately designed exercise programs can prevent falls in older people. Exercise as a stand-alone intervention may be the optimal and potentially most effective approach to fall prevention.

Exercise May Delay or Prevent Hip Surgery

People with mild to moderate hip osteoarthritis may be able to avoid hip surgery if they exercise. People who participated in an exercise program for one hour at least twice a week for 12 weeks were 44 percent less likely to need hip replacement surgery six years later compared with a similar group of people who did not exercise. Also, those who exercised reported improved flexibility and ability to perform physical activities compared with those who did not exercise.

In a review of 8 studies that included older adults with osteoarthritis, researchers found that strength training programs reduced participants' pain by 35% and increased their lower limb strength and function by 33%, compared to the control groups.

It's Never Too Late to Start

Exercise and physical activity can have a positive effect on your everyday life. Even if you think you're too old or too out of shape to exercise, becoming active on a regular basis will give you more energy and the ability to do things more easily, faster, and for longer than before. If you're already active, keep up the good work. If you don't exercise now, it's never too late to start.

Once you start exercising and become more physically active, you’ll begin to see results in just a few weeks — you’ll feel stronger and more energetic. You’ll notice that you can do things easier, faster, or for longer than before. This tells you that your body is getting used to a higher level of activity. Now is the time to build on those benefits by doing more.

Be safe!

Don’t lift without guidance. Weight lifting is something that needs to be coached and taught. Proper form is important. Safety is really important. It’s important to note that weight lifting is not about lifting the most weight all the time but doing it properly that best benefits your body.

Talk to your doctor before your begin a new exercise routine.

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