The 76 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. are well-known for their active, busy lifestyles. They are the generation that is redefining aging in our society by continuing to work and stay active well into their golden years.
But the physical realities of aging are slowly catching up with the Baby Boom generation, as ailments like heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes take their toll. Luckily, a simple program of strength training added to regular, moderate or vigorous cardiovascular exercise can prolong the active years for many Baby Boomers. Here are my top 7 benefits of strength training for Baby Boomers.
- Enhances weight management. Strength training helps maintain fat-free body mass as you age and has a positive effect on resting metabolic rate--the rate at which your body uses fuel, even at rest. A higher resting metabolic rate makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight as you age.
- Protects bone density. Strength training creates a positive stress on your bones, which spurs them to produce new bone tissue. Regular strength training, along with basic weight-bearing activities, can protect or even increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
- Prevents injury. A balanced strength training program enhances your body's muskuloskeletal integrity which can protect against common injuries like torn rotator cuffs or ACLs.
- Protects against Type 2 diabetes. Resistance training improves glucose tolerance and contributes to healthy weight management, both of which can protect against Type 2 diabetes.
- Fosters independence. By enhancing your ability to perform the activities of daily living, such as walking, cooking, dressing, and keeping house, strength training will help you maintain your independence well into your senior years.
- Improves self-esteem. Regular strength training improves muscular fitness and endurance, but also reshapes the body. Baby Boomers who follow a regular strength training program can enjoy enhanced feelings of self-efficacy and an improved body image.
- Improves athletic performance. If you are a regular athlete, strength training can improve your speed, endurance and overall performance as a runner, cyclist, swimmer or whatever sports you enjoy.
Strength training doesn't have to mean the beefy, muscle-bound, Muscle Beach sort of training you may have imagined. In fact, for most Baby Boomers, a good strength training program will require only 2-3 sessions per week, and may include free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or only body weight resistance. And grunting is entirely optional!