Growing Stronger—Strength Trainning for Older Adults Growing Stronger—Strength Trainning for Older Adults
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
No matter what your age or physical condition, appropriate physical activity can be good for your health. Like young adults, adults over 50 can also benefit from including strength training as part of regular physical activities.
Benefits of Strength Training
As people age, they lose muscle tissue. Strengthening exercises can build muscle tissue and help slow the rate of age-related loss. Strengthening exercises may also be called resistance training, weight training, or strength training.
In addition to building muscles, strength training can promote mobility, improve health-related fitness, and strengthen bones.
Make Strength Training Part of An Overall Activity Program
Although strength training can be valuable by itself, you can gain even more benefit from an overall physical activity program that also includes the following activities:
Endurance aerobic activities: These activities should be of at least moderate intensity and increase your heart rate and breathing for extended periods of time. They can help improve your stamina for daily tasks and can help improve the health of the heart and circulatory system. Examples include walking at a brisk pace, bicycling, and dancing. For descriptions of intensity levels, see Intensity.)
Stretching activities: These activities help keep your body limber and flexible by stretching muscles and the tissues that hold the muscles in place.
Balancing exercises: Balancing exercises can help prevent falls and fall-related injuries. One example of a form of exercise that emphasizes balance is Tai Chi.
Making Sure You’re Ready
Being more active is safe for most people regardless of age. Strength training can be very beneficial; however, people with a chronic medical condition should check with a doctor before they significantly increase in their level of physical activity.
For more information about conditions to be aware of and for a questionnaire you can use to assess your own readiness, visit Ready to Get Strong?
The following suggestions can help you get started with strength training:
Look for opportunities in your community. Community recreation centers, churches, and schools may offer physical activity classes that include strength training. Classes may also include aerobics and flexibility activities.
Strength training exercises can be modified to accommodate health problems, for example, by varying whether the exercise is done standing, seated, or lying down. Again, strength training classes may also include aerobics, flexibility activities, and calisthenics.
Join a health club or work with a personal trainer for instructions on how to use strength-training equipment.
Try other everyday activities that can help you become stronger. For example, many typical household, gardening, and manual labor activities (such as lifting, carrying, digging, raking, splitting wood, and sawing) strengthen muscles. Although these activities alone do not offer the comprehensive benefits of a strength training program, they can help you strengthen some muscles.
Check with your local bookstore or library for a book or video to begin a strength training program at home. For example, you can download a printable version of the Growing Stronger course in Resources.
Strength training provides the most benefits when you adopt it as a regular activity in your daily life. Consider the following tips for maintaining your interest:
Vary your strength training routine. After engaging in strength training for a few weeks, try alternating muscle groups or adding additional activity components.
Exercise with friends or family to provide encouragement to each other. For example, go to the gym together or sign up for a community Tai Chi class.
Keep a journal of your strength training activities to track your progress. A record of your activities can help you recognize improvements.
If a new challenge helps maintain your interest, try one of the following tips:
Gradually increase the difficulty of your training. If one exercise begins to seem too easy, try others that can help you increase your strength.
Increase the number of sets you do for various exercises. (A “set” is the number of times you repeat an exercise. The recommended number of sets varies with the exercise.) As you become comfortable with a certain exercise, try performing additional sets to add variety to your strength training program.
For more suggestions on ways to keep up your enthusiasm, visit Staying on Track.
To learn more about exercises you can do at home, visit
CDC’s Growing Stronger – Strength Training for Older Adults
National Insititute of Health – Senior Health