According to the CDC, in America, 25% of Americans 65 years of age or older fall each year. If you experience a fall, much like a concussion, you are much more likely to experience a fall in the next 6 months. With over 2.8 million injuries due to falls treated in emergency departments every year, it is clear that this is a concern for every single one of us as we age. 5 Ways Weightlifting Can Reduce Falls for Seniors
These falls, whether you are injured or not, can impact you in other ways. It can start to deteriorate your quality of life. First, the fear of falling starts to limit your engagement in social activities and day to day duties. Then it can start to hinder your confidence in doing basic things outside or in your living quarters.
With reduced activity comes greater physical decline, isolation, and a potential to worsen a slew of other health issues.
So what are you to do?
Maintain and improve functional independence at all costs.
There are habits, lifestyle changes, preventative and proactive measures that everyone could be taking. Although this applies to all ages, it becomes even more important the older you get.
Weightlifting is one activity that is invaluable. It improves your health, helps reduce fall risk factors, and improve functional independence. Often, lifting is not something that many people believe is a good fit for older adults and seniors. This is a common misconception even though countless studies have proven otherwise. It is not only safe but it is also effective.
Weightlifting helps by improving 5 specific aspects allowing seniors to keep living their best life.
The characteristic of “balance” consists of two different types. The first is static balancing, the ability to maintain balance while not moving. The second is dynamic balancing, the ability to maintain one’s position while on the go. Both of these aspects of balance are important to be safe when doing everyday activities with confidence.
Weightlifting is able to make improvements in both the static and dynamic balance. Allowing you to move with greater ease and confidence.
Neuromuscular functioning and proprioception play a key role in functional independence. These two fancy terms are what allows your body to move in a coordinated fashion. Also they are responsible for your brain to know exactly where your limbs are and the effort being exerted throughout your body.
Unfortunately, these both begin to deteriorate with lack of use and age. Making moving about on your own a greater risk.
Weightlifting comes to save the day again by improving age-related declines in neuromuscular functioning. These improvements are demonstrated through greater movement control, balance, functional capacity, and proper movement.
How much training do you need to do to get these benefits? You can go all out with high volume training if you wish. Or you can keep it light with low volume. Both options provide these same benefits.
This doesn’t mean you should wait to include this into your lifestyle when issues arise. Why?
Well, because those who have been lifting as a part of their lives were actually protected from any loss in movement control as they aged. The sooner you get to lifting, the better.
Being able to move with ease is something many of us take for granted. Over time, it can become difficult to bend over or reach for items on high shelves. As this occurs, it becomes harder to be fully engaged in your life and do some of the more simplest tasks.
For some of the seniors in my own life, bending over, reaching on high shelves, and the likes are unfortunately no longer safe options. When picking up something you dropped becomes rather difficult and even a fall risk, your functional independence is inhibited.
Through weightlifting, studies have shown that you are actually able to improve the flexibility in every single joint in the body. This means every single type of movement that you can do becomes easier with multi-joint movements becoming exponentially easier. In fact, hitting the weights more frequently actually makes leaning forward even easier.
You have seen how all these technical aspects of functional independence are improved by weightlifting but how will this combine to benefit you?
When it comes to walking, seniors saw their step length and step speed increase. On top of that, they were able to recover their balance when taking a single step from anywhere from fifteen to thirty percent. So when on the move, if there is a slight hiccup going from one step to another you will be more likely to recover than enduring a scary fall.
Other tasks that happen day in and day out can prove to be difficult as well. Whatever it may be, weightlifting seems to improve by making the task itself easier and reducing the amount of time it takes to do them. This can be everything from climbing stairs, rising from a chair, and going from standing to sitting. Essentially any other movements that require a level of strength and muscular control.
If you are able to maintain balance, have greater movement control, improved mobility and flexibility, while being more functionally capable, you are going to experience less falls. It is just that simple.
What isn’t simple is the emotion around falls. Specifically, fear. Knowing how dangerous a fall can be can bring about a great deal of fear. Especially if you have endured a fall before. This fear can be a somewhat paralyzing one that holds you back from going about your life in a confidently.
Thankfully, as the ability to move with greater ease, speed, and strength improves, the fear has been shown to slowly dissipate. Allowing for greater peace of mind and confidence to carry on your day.
When you add it all up, the science is clear. By integrating weightlifting into your lifestyle not only will you prevent any further declines in your functional capabilities but you will also improve them. The more physically capable you are as you age the more active you are able to be and the more engaged life you can lead.
By Nicholas Rizzo
With a passion for everything health and fitness, Nick uses his writing as an opportunity to help others lead a happier, healthier, and more active life. Having watched loved ones struggle through the aging process has motivated him to do what he can to help others take action today to avoid countless struggles later in life. He currently is the lead training, health, and wellness researcher and writer for RunRepeat.Com.
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As a Senior.com Director of Marketing, Kimberly Johnson is passionate about providing Seniors with the resources and products to live well. Kimberly is a seasoned caregiver to her family and breast cancer survivor. Her father battled ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, for 13 months before passing. Today Kimberly lives in Southern California near her 102 year old grandmother, widowed mother, a mentally disabled sister and second sister who is also a breast cancer survivor. She is happily married to her husband of 22 years and they have 3 children.View All Articles