Adults failing to meet muscle strength standards
Experts say exercising shouldn’t just be only about cardio. According to a new study, from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, not enough adults older than 45-years-old are picking up a dumbbell or hopping onto a machine to strengthen their muscles.
The study found that less than 24 percent said they met strengthening recommendations set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). That figure dips even lower to 21.7 percent for seniors who are older than 65.
Both the American College of Sports Medicine and the HHS suggest targeting all major muscle groups at least twice per week. Researchers focused on muscle-targeting exercises where you use your own body weight such as machines, free weights or elastic bands.
Along with increasing the aesthetic look of the body, muscle strengthening improves physical functions and can have positive effects on blood pressure and bone density. Participation in strength training can reduce illness and promote independent living among older adults, according to the HHS.
“You’re never too old to start an exercise program,” says Brandon Nemeth, fitness specialist at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “It’s been proven that a sedentary lifestyle causes older adults to lose the everyday ability to complete normal tasks. Without the exercise component, older adults can see an increase in illness, increase in hospital stays, more medications, and decrease in bone density.”
Nemeth suggests walking, water aerobics, senior fitness classes, chair bound fitness exercises and yoga.
“Exercising in a group setting is an outstanding way for older adults to have that social experience while improving overall health,” he adds.
The data for the study was collected by all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. The study showed while adults struggle to meet strength training guidelines, more than 51 percent hit their cardio targets.
Only 17.2 percent of adults in this sample met both the physical activity and strength training recommendations. The data also showed men were 22 percent more likely to reach the standards than women.
“What people need to understand is that exercise is medicine for overall health,” Nemeth says. “No matter an individual’s condition, age or gender, they can benefit from exercise. Exercise is the absolute key to healthy aging and maintaining quality of life.”
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