Strength Training at Any Age: Debunking 5 Common Myths

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If you haven't started lifting weights, it may be because you've run into one of these five common myths about strength training. The reality is that taking time each week to build your strength can help you live a more healthy and independent life. Amos Song, MD, with Overlake Clinics - Musculoskeletal Medicine, breaks down strength training facts versus fiction.

Older women lifts small weights.
  1. Myth: Strength training is for young people only.

Fact: Strength training is an important part of a fitness routine and can help ensure your muscles are strong enough for a variety of daily activities, like carrying groceries or gardening. Nearly everyone can benefit from strength training, including older adults. Older adults who participate in strength training programs have improved self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as more muscle mass and greater bone density. Besides making you stronger, strength training may help ease arthritis pain, improve heart health, help with weight control and improve blood glucose control.

  1. Myth: Strength training is for men only.

Fact: It may be even more important for women to strengthen their bones and muscles than it is for men. After menopause, women lose a small percentage of bone mass every year. Strength training can help slow this loss. It also helps delay the progression of a disease that causes bones to weaken (osteoporosis), slows muscle loss and improves balance. This can help reduce the risk of falls and fractures, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  1. Myth: Strength training is dangerous and bad for your joints.

Fact: Strength training is safe as long as it is done correctly. When done properly, strength training exercises protect joints by strengthening the muscles that support them. You can learn how to use weights correctly by working with a qualified trainer at a local gym or senior center. As with any new exercise, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before starting a strength training program. 

  1. Myth: I am too weak for strength training.

Fact: Strength training can be especially helpful if your muscles are weak. It can help make you stronger and improve your balance and flexibility. No matter how weak you may feel, there are strengthening exercises for you. Lifting weights regularly builds strength and muscle, and it doesn’t matter if those weights are heavy or light. Start with minimal weight or even no weight—using your own body for resistance—and slowly build up as you feel stronger. 

  1. Myth: Strength training is difficult to learn.

Fact: For most people, free weights and weight machines are not difficult to learn. Work with a trainer or take a class at your local gym, senior citizen center or YMCA. Once you are comfortable using free weights, you may want to buy some to use at home.

If you suffer from muscular injuries, spine disorders, neurological injuries, migraine headaches, neck pain or lower back pain, Overlake’s Musculoskeletal Medicine team can help. Our experts will assess your fitness level and provide personalized treatments to help you return to a healthy and active lifestyle.

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