Older adults may avoid exercise of any type for fear of injuring themselves or because they do not think they are capable. However, according to Miriam Nelson, professor of nutrition at Tufts University s Friedman School of Nutrition, It s way more dangerous to not be active as an older adult. And the research is there to prove this point.
Last year, we wrote about the benefits of high intensity physical activity, specifically cardiovascular activity, for individuals 45 years of age and older. And research from Tufts adds to the recommendation for older adults to train intensely, specifically in the area of strength training. Although they won t gain muscle as efficiently as a younger person a 60 year old individual can gain 2 to 3 pounds of muscle in six months to a year the benefits exceed that of physical gains. Strength training also plays a role in executive function, including the ability to multitask efficiently, says Teresa Liu-Ambrose, associate professor in the department of physical therapy at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
However, it is still important to be careful, especially if one has pre-existing injuries. Dr. Wayne L. Westcott, an instructor of exercise science at Quincy College in Quincy, Massachusetts says that it s important older adults consult a trainer to make sure they are doing exercises correctly and safely. And Dr. Caroline Apovian, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center adds that oftentimes, older adults do not get enough protein, which is important for building muscle.
ACSH s Ariel Savransky says, The research shows that older adults can benefit immensely from exercise, both cardiovascular exercise and strength workouts. However, it is important to consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen, especially if you have preexisting conditions.