Node Smith, ND
Exercise of any kind is beneficial to health, but there may be some that are more effective, or efficient at achieving a specific goal. If your goal is to circumvent the effects of aging, and maintain strength and endurance into later years, it looks like resistance training may be your best option.
Resistance training can help minimize the muscle wasting and frailty that often accompanies the aging process
According to a recent study from the University of Buffalo, published in the journal Physical and Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics, resistance training can help minimize the muscle wasting and frailty that often accompanies the aging process, better than other exercise methods. Resistance training does not have to use weights; swimming and the use of rubber bands, or even calisthenics are forms of resistance training.
Big difference between the muscle strength and endurance of the two groups
The study specifically looked at older women, who by the age of 75 commonly have significantly decreased muscle strength and endurance. The study looked at 46 women in two different age ranges – 60-74 and 75-90. There was a big difference between the muscle strength and endurance of the two groups, especially among those who were very active.
Mobility was seen to decrease in the older age group in individuals who were minimally active
Major differences that were attributable to increased activity that provided sources of resistance training were mobility, which was seen to be roughly the same between women who engaged in high levels of physical activity, regardless of age. Mobility was seen to decrease in the older age group in individuals who were minimally active.
This amount of activity is simply not enough to maintain muscle strength and endurance
The main activities of many of the younger women were light gardening, light housework and stretching. This amount of activity is simply not enough to maintain muscle strength and endurance through the aging process. It seems that regular exercise isn’t a part of older women’s daily habits yet.
Adequate muscle mass affords mobility and autonomy later in life
Increased muscle strength and endurance is a great way to prevent future falls, osteoporosis, and keep sociability up as one ages. When one maintains adequate muscle mass they are able to enjoy their mobility, which equates to autonomy in many instances, as well as drastically decrease risk of injury from falls and other accidents. The body’s muscular system is also intimately related to cardiovascular health, as well as lymph circulation, both of which are incredibly important in overall health, not only in the aging body, but throughout the life cycle.
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.