is Not Just for the Young
By Gabe Mirkin,
Older men and
women can enlarge and strengthen muscles in the same way
that younger people do.
The stimulus to make muscles stronger is to exercise them
against increasing resistance. When you push against great
resistance, you feel a burning that is a sign of muscle
damage. When the muscle heals from that damage, it is
stronger than before. You feel sore on the next day and
should not exercise that muscle against heavy resistance
until the soreness goes away.
Most young people can lift very heavy weights and continue
to lift through the soreness, but older people should stop
lifting as soon as they feel the soreness during a workout.
Younger people recover faster so they can lift heavy weights
every second or third days, but older people take longer for
the soreness to go away, so they may be able to lift heavy
only once every week or two.
A study from Washington University in St. Louis showed that
a supervised weightlifting and continuous exercise program
can improve function in older people who have difficulty
walking and taking care of themselves. Supervised exercise
improved older people's ability to feed themselves, take
care of bowel habits, and perform their activities better
than a low-intensity home exercise program. Exercising
vigorously in later life gives older people a far better
quality of life, and allows them to be more independent and
do most of the things that they could do when they were much
younger. It's never too late to get started.
Subscribe to my FREE weekly newsletter on fitness, health,
Dr. Gabe Mirkin
has been a radio talk show host for 25 years and practicing
physician for more than 40 years; he is board certified in
four specialties, including sports medicine. Read or listen
to hundreds of his fitness and health reports -- and the
FREE Good Food Book -- at