Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Join a Gym?

This Q&A was adapted from my just-released-book, Fit over 50: Make Simple Choices Today for a Healthier, Happier You. It was adapted for the September issue of Today’s Christian Living. If you don’t have a subscription, I highly recommend it.

Dear Dr. Walt,

I’m looking into a gym membership. But, all of the brawny bodies there are intimidating to me. Any suggestions?

—Unsure in Utah

Dear Hesitant,

Many folks are intimidated about going to the gym because of the muscular people they encounter. But older Americans stand to gain the most from weight lifting of any segment of our society. Researchers have found at least ten benefits to strength training as we age:

  1. Improved functional strength and flexibility, making us less vulnerable to falls or other injuries.
  2. Increased bone mass and density help protect us against osteoporosis (thinning of our bones), which helps prevent fractures.
  3. Increased muscle strength. Each decade after the age of 30, we lose 3 to 5 percent of our muscle mass, which weakens us.
  4. Lower body fat and a more favorable body composition. A gain in muscle may cause your body weight to stay the same despite fat loss; but this is still better for your health.
  5. Reduced resting blood pressure.
  6. Reduced low-back pain. Strength training can increase low-back strength and prevent or alleviate low-back pain.
  7. Reduced pain of arthritis. 
  8. Reduced symptoms of other chronic diseases such as depression, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and sleep disorders.
  9. Enhanced appearance, self-confidence, and self-esteem.
  10. Increased serotonin, the “feel good” hormone, resulting in better moods.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends lifting light weight at moderate intensity twice a week for anyone 50 and older. A regular program of strength training, combined with aerobic exercises, can help reduce, or prevent, many functional declines associated with growing older.

Even more impressive are the results of a recent study of more than 80,000 adults led by the University of Sydney that concluded, “Light weight lifting, push-ups, and sit-ups could add years to your life.” It is the “largest study to compare the mortality outcomes of different types of exercise and reported that people who did strength-based exercise had a 23-percent reduction in risk of premature death by any means and a 31-percent reduction in cancer-related death.”

So, forget those strapping, beefy bodies at the gym. Get there. Get going. And, as a result, your much more likely to become more highly healthy. And, over time, you’ll both look better and feel better.

Adapted from Fit over 50. Copyright © 2019 by Walt Larimore and Phillip Bishop. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97408. Used by permission.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2019. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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