Do healthy, ripped bodies only belong to the young? Not if you’re Ernestine Shepherd. At 77, she’s the world’s oldest female bodybuilder and in a short, 8-minute documentary from Prevention Magazine, you can follow a day in her life.
Strength Training For Everyone
Strength training is one of the most dramatic things you can do to increase your overall health. It includes such an enormous variety of exercises—bodyweight exercises, resistance machines, free-weight training—that nearly everyone can find a program that fits their schedule, budget, and fitness level. Here are some compelling reasons to find a program that fits you. Be sure to get your doctor’s approval before beginning any exercise program.
Keep your heart healthy | A Harvard study of 44,452 men from 1986 to 1998 showed that those who strength train over 30 minutes per week reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by 30%. The American Heart Association now recommends strength training to reduce the risk of heart disease and as a therapy for patients in cardiac rehabilitation programs.
Strengthen bones | Stressing your bones causes them to grow denser and stronger. A 1994 study by Tufts University of post-menopausal women ages 50 to 70 showed that strength training prevents bone loss while preserving and even increasing bone density, which decreases the risk of bone fracture.
Control weight | Strength training burns roughly 75 to 300 calories for a 30-minute workout. A 2001 University of Wisconsin study showed that it also increases your metabolic rate for hours after working out, so you’ll burn more calories in less time right after a workout. And when you expend energy throughout the day, your muscle burns more calories than your fat—the more muscle you gain, the more efficiently you’ll burn calories and the more quickly you’ll lose fat.
Keep your mind healthy | Strength training improves your self-confidence and decreases the risk of depression. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention has stated that “strength training provides similar improvements in depression as anti-depressant medications.”
Control glucose | Americans with diabetes (8% of the population) and pre-diabetes (16% of the population) have a reduced ability to process glucose, the simple sugar, used for energy, that you get from food. Strength training can significantly affect your ability to control glucose and therefore to manage or prevent diabetes. In a 2006 Tufts University study of 62 men and women with Type II diabetes, those completing 16 weeks of strength training dramatically improved their glucose control; 72% were able to reduce their diabetes medications.
Find a senior program | The Centers for Disease Control have created a physical activity page for seniors that includes motivation, preparation, and sets of exercises. Check out this workout article from AARP. Read this story from NPR.