Training for Longevity

We have already covered why strength training is important for all, so with that baseline let us take a dive into training for longevity.

We all age, no stopping that, but why do we except that we will get weaker, slower or that we are doomed? – sounds bleak, good keep that image in your head!

As people age, we start to think about just staying active, limiting our workouts to protect ourselves and even stopping some exercises as they could be counter-productive.

Quick search of the interweb for benefits of resistance training returns:

  1. Improved muscular strength and tone, helping to protect your joints from injury.
  2. Maintaining flexibility and balance.
  3. Can help to reduce or prevent cognitive decline.

All of these are what we are looking for in training, if I am training someone for a particular sport first step is to give them the best base of movement, followed by strength and lastly skill. No point having wicked good skills with a limited base of movement stopping these from being delivered.

This isn’t the point of this topic though……

If we look closely at the benefits, the demographic that benefits most from these are older adults. Sure, in an ideal world everyone starts this early on and builds up, however ideal is not what we have to work with.

This is all easy to say, let’s take a look into each of the points for some specifics and how they feed into daily activities rather than the gym:

Improved muscular strength:

We hinge about 100 times a day, this takes effort. Being able to hinge safely using the proper form will require strength and technique. Bending done for cupboards, getting in and out of the car, bath or even chairs. We can build this strength, making the activity easier and safer.

Maintaining flexibility:

Maintaining (and increasing) flexibility means less chance of pulled muscles, aids in stability and goes hand in hand with increased strength to protect from issues around being in unusual positions and that causing problems.

Cognitive decline:

Natural thoughts here go towards brain decline, and whilst this is correct, we also need to consider our reaction times, ability to focus on tasks and being able to get into the zone. There are many examples of reaction such as driving, playing with children catch, football etc.

Time to roll all of this into an example:

When we are in our younger years, let’s say an active teenager if you trip on a paving slab we react with a quick shuffle of our feet and hope no one noticed!

Fast forward 20 years, we can probably still do the shuffle bit but, things are going to feel a little worse, maybe we don’t fall but our reactions have slowed, and we jar our knee.

20 more years our reactions have further slowed, our body has started to lose muscle, strength and our reactions has also deteriorated, the outcome is much less favourable than before.

This is a cycle that is accepted, with the usual can’t do what I used to attitude.

We shouldn’t accept this, whilst we can’t stop aging, we can use resistance training to keep an active life going well into our ‘golden years’

Instead of looking at resistance training purely for lifting heavy weights, we should be using it to ensure longevity in our chosen daily activities, and if it makes us look good, that’s a bonus!

Key things to consider when looking at resistance training for longevity:

  1. Use movements that assist in daily tasks – Hinge, Press, Pull, Carry
  2. Improve gait strength – Lunging, single leg balance and strength
  3. Challenge the mind – learning new movements that require thought to complete, increasing mind-muscle connection.

Incorporating the above doesn’t need to include heavy weights, ridiculously long sessions or training 6 days a week.

Simple sessions that incorporate a variety of these movements can make a huge difference.

One of my favourite quotes is:

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, second best time is today”

It is never too late (or early) to start maintaining our bodies for longevity.

Not sure where to start or want some guidance? Give a Team SF a shout and we can assist.