Many people think of weight lifting as something younger people do for sports and not for the older population. However, weight lifting has its benefits for people of all ages and I’ll focus on two areas: bone density and strength.
Bone density is improved especially in the upper body with weight lifting which is more and more important as we age especially for women. Bone density responds to forces applied to the bone. The easiest example of this is in the lower body with walking. With walking forces are applied and the bone responds by increasing the density. With inactivity there is a lack of force and a decrease in density. For the upper body we don’t on a regular basis put weight through our arms. This is where weight lifting comes in as a benefit to bone density. With upper body weight lifting the body gets the stimulus to increase the density and we can help avoid osteoporosis.
Another added benefit of weight lifting is an increase in strength. Unfortunately, as we age we loose muscle mass and strength but we can combat this with gains from lifting weights. There is some recent research that indicates we should consider even heavy weight lifting into our 80s and 90s to gain strength to be able to get out of low chairs or up and down stairs.
As a physical therapist I encourage all people to be as active as possible without causing pain or irritation. So if you already lift weights for strengthening good job you’re also helping maintain bone density and if you don’t I think you should consider it for the above reasons. If you’re not sure how to safely go about starting a weight lifting program contact our office and a licensed Physical Therapist can help get you going in the correct direction to get the best results and avoid injury.
For more information you may call 541-479-6936 with any questions. We regularly offer free screening to the community for those who do not have insurance or those who have high deductible payments.
Jesse Elliott, DPT Doctor of Physical Therapy with SiskiyouPT Grants Pass, Oregon