Why you need to keep lifting weights even when you're in your 60s

A recent study has found that older adults who put time into lifting weights at least twice a week increase their chances of living a long and healthy life.

While there have been several studies proving that if you are physically active over the age of 60 you’ll have a better quality of life, few have examined the relationship between weight lifting and mortality in a large, nationally representative sample over an extended period of time. We’re talking about 30,000 adults over a 15-year period.

Of those surveyed, those aged 65 years or older who trained twice a week using weights were 46 per cent less likely to drop off before the study concluded. It appears that increased strength in their muscles and healthier bones kept their bodies running longer. It’s also worth noting that they weight lifters were 41 per cent less likely to suffer cardiac death and were 19 per cent less likely to die from cancer.

When outside factors such as BMI and diabetes were controlled the results were still quite significant.

Regular exercise is proven to have health benefits, including preventing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. These latest results are strong evidence to support strength training in your 60s and beyond.

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If you’re looking to include an element of strength training into your exercise regimen it’s important you consult a health professional and get a ‘seal of approval’ before doing so. This is for a couple of reasons (and applies to exercise enthusiasts of any age) one being that you are at a greater risk of medical conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis. Your workout is likely going to differ from someone who has a. been lifting weights for a number of years and/or b. is younger than you.

Stretching is critical before commencing exercise because you want to ensure your joints and muscles are moving comfortably in order to avoid an injury.

When it comes to weights the recommended session length is between 20 and 45 minutes and you want to maintain a moderate level of intensity. In addition, you’ll be looking to focus your workout on the muscle groups of your legs, back, shoulders, arm, chest and abdomen and for each exercise you should do two sets of at least eight to 10 repetitions (don’t push it if you’ve never done anything like this before).

Exercises could include:
Dumbbell squats
Dumbbell shoulder shrugs
Cable curl
Triceps pushdown
Leg extension
Overhead machine press
Push ups
Lat pulldown
Lunges (with or without a dumbbell)
Abdominal crunch machine
Seated row
Incline chest press

What forms of exercise do you participate in? Have you ever included weights into your exercise plan?