Strength Training in Later Adulthood: A Necessary Investment for Healthy Aging

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We are all very aware of the importance of saving for retirement. We diligently add a portion of our income to our bank accounts on a regular basis so that we will be financially “healthy” in the future. Along the same lines, we can all agree that there are benefits to staying active and how these “investments” in our health now will pay us “dividends” in the future. But, for some reason, most of us are not making an active investment in our health on a regular basis.

Scientific research has determined that muscle size and strength decrease approximately 40% between the age of 20 and 601, and this decline is often associated with losses in functional ability and limitations in overall quality of life. Basically, if your muscles are not resistance trained regularly to stay strong, they cannot support your structure, leading to more difficulty doing the things you need (and want) to do.

Aerobic exercise is a beneficial part of an exercise program, as it helps to maintain cardiovascular fitness (how well your body is able to use oxygen). Per the Centers for Disease Control, it is recommended that adults engage in aerobic training a total of 150 minutes per week. In addition to aerobic exercise, it is also recommended that strength training that works all major muscle groups (arms, hips, back, abdomen, chest, and shoulders) be included on 2 or more days per week due to the benefits provided by strength training. In fact, only strength training exercise can provide increased muscle mass, improved bone density and increased muscle strength that will improve your functional abilities.

If you haven’t been making regular “deposits” into your health and fitness savings, all hope is not lost! With clearance from your doctor, you can begin adding in some brisk walking, gradually increasing to reach the goal of 150 minutes per week. Keep in mind that you can use small chunks of time dispersed throughout your day to reach the goal of 150 minutes per week.

When it comes to strength training, muscle is unique in that it has the ability to be restored; in fact, research indicates that up to 20 years of muscle losses can be regained through the use of regular resistance training2. This means that even if you haven’t been making regular “deposits” into your health and fitness savings, you do have the opportunity to get some great returns if you use strength training as your investment. Before embarking on your strength training journey it can be very beneficial to have an evaluation completed by a rehabilitation expert (Physical or Occupational Therapy) to identify any movement limitations. Based upon evaluation findings, the therapist will be able to provide you specific programming recommendations, as well as movements or exercises to avoid, ensuring maximal benefit with minimal risk. As you progress, you may transition your programming to a certified personal trainer who can continue advancing your strength training program until you reach your optimal fitness level.

Vita offers clients the opportunity to be evaluated by a licensed Physical or Occupational Therapist to identify specific movement limitations before beginning a resistance training program. These evaluations are often covered by insurance with a doctor referral. Once the evaluation is complete, specific exercise programming will be provided to address limitations, restore proper movement patterns and increase strength.

When appropriate, your care may be transitioned to a certified personal trainer at Vita who will continue providing appropriate programming focused on increasing your strength and abilities, using corrective exercise strategies as needed. Our trainers hold nationally recognized certifications and have degrees in the movement sciences, such as kinesiology or exercise science.

At Vita, therapy and training sessions are scheduled based upon your needs and are completed in a 1 on 1 format to ensure you meet your goals. We offer flexible hours, including evening and Saturday appointments. Our boutique gym environment offers you the best state-of-the-art equipment without the over-crowded feel of a commercial “gym” setting.

Feel free to contact us to learn more about how you can begin strength training with Vita as your guide!

By : Colleen Baughn 


  1. Doherty TJ. Invited review: aging and sarcopenia. J Appl Physiol 2003;95:1717–1727
  2. Pearson SJ, Young A, Macaluso A, Devito G, Nimmo MA, Cobbold M, et al. Muscle function in elite master weightlifters. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2002;34:1199
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