It’s one of those things we don’t like to think about as we get older- but I am here to remind you that our strength inevitably declines as we age (I know- it’s a bummer!).
Whether you’ve ever trained to the point of reaching your limits or not, everyone has a physiological “ceiling” or “peak” when it comes to strength and cardiovascular activity (maybe you’ve heard of a VO2 max test before?! Common in hockey/football players for testing peak aerobic capacity!). Every year, our ceiling/peak starts to drop. Even as we get into our 40’s, we don’t necessarily notice this yet because even though our ceiling is dropping, our fitness level is staying the same. Eventually, our ceiling catches up to our current fitness level… this is when we see a decrease in muscle mass, bone mass, and see NOTICEABLE changes.
This decline in strength begins between age 45-50 and progresses at a rate of 12-15% per decade. By 60-70 years old, we lose 25-40% of our muscular strength! Therefore, it’s especially important to engage in weight/power training to increase the strength of our skeletal system and decrease risk of fracture with aging.
If we continue to do resistance activity as we age, we can help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis (Did you know that strength training is the #1 activity that increases bone mass!?). In fact, women have a much higher chance of developing osteoporosis because of the resulting changes in sex hormones (post-menopausal women are at a very high risk due to decrease in estrogen) and are generally less active than men later in life.
Let’s not forget that cardiovascular exercise is important too! However, resistance exercise is what helps us maintain our function, independence, and allows us to continue our activities of daily living well into our later years. I strongly believe (and science also has my back on this one!) that every single person should be doing some form of strength-based exercise regularly. It took many years, but I even managed to convince my 65-year-old dad to do a few exercises to help with his back pain… and low and behold… he feels great (although he’ll never admit that it’s the exercise that is helping!).
If you’re looking for more guidance on resistance/strength training- these videos are a great place to start and easy to do in the comfort of your home! These are my absolute favourite, easy-to-do, strength-based exercises from my Stay Fit at Home YouTube series!
Strength Workout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jJ7iJIM0r8
Modified Strength Workout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bIoSJdEmhU