Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Weight training your way into the golden years
If you think weight training is only for professional body builders or young athletes, you're wrong. Anyone can benefit from a weight training program, and it's particularly important to pump iron as you age.
Debbie MacLean is an athletic trainer at Coca-Cola's corporate headquarters in Atlanta and trains Coke employees of all ages. She says we lose about five to seven pounds of muscle mass per decade as we get older. "As a result," she says, "your metabolism slows and you start to gain weight."
In your 30s, it's all about metabolism. Your body is changing and you are burning fewer calories. This is a good time to focus on adding more muscle and definition to your body, especially the backs of the arms and the abdominal muscles. This can be accomplished with free weights or weight machines.
In your 40s, it's all about maintaining muscle tone with weight training. Strengthening leg muscles will help alleviate knee problems that become more prevalent at this age. Decades of sitting at a computer may be coming back to haunt you in the form of back pain. Lifting weights that isolate those lower back muscles will help.
In your 50s, it may be time to modify your workout to slow down the effects of arthritis and osteoporosis. Focus on strengthening your upper back and shoulders to avoid a hunched back as you get older. Do it right and you should be able to continue weight training into your 60s and beyond.
Before you start lifting weights, check with an athletic trainer to find the best workout for you and how to prevent injuries. And don't forget cardio exercise like swimming, walking or biking. As MacLean says, "If you don't do something to work your heart and lungs, it doesn't matter what your bicep can do."
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