Too many myths cloud the topics of aging and fitness. They keep people from living a healthy lifestyle, and most come from younger people and society at large.
But there’s one super-persistent myth that people over 50 perpetuate themselves. To be more precise, women over 50 use this falsehood too often to avoid the most important type of exercise they need: strength training.
“I don’t want to lift weights because I don’t want to get all big and bulky.”
Have you ever heard or said something like that? It’s astonishing how this one refuses to vanish. So, let’s take another shot at it here, for those of you out there being held back from your optimal life by a lie.
Why It’s So Important
Strength training is also known as weightlifting and it includes using free weights, machines, body weight, resistance bands and yoga.
It not the same thing as bodybuilding in the Arnold Schwarzenegger fashion.
All humans need muscle just to perform basic tasks like standing up, but we lose it if we don’t use it. In fact, common age-related muscle loss (known as sarcopenia) is why we so often see older people struggle to stand up from the couch.
“Sarcopenia is one of the most important causes of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults,” said Dr. Jeremy Walston said in the National Institutes of Health.
Losing muscle contributes to falls and fractures, and it reduces our strength and mobility for all kinds of tasks. Less muscle can mean more body aches and pains, poorer posture, and more trouble.
Sarcopenia is not inevitable. We fight it with strength training so that we can do all kinds of physical activities.
About That Myth
Strength training with us is easy, empowering and safe at any age.
Here’s what’s NOT easy: Accidentally getting “big and bulky” like bodybuilders.
It takes intense concentration and effort – in the gym AND in the kitchen – to get big muscles like that. It also takes testosterone. So, there’s no way a healthy dose of strength training will make you “big” OR “bulky,” let alone both.
That’s a little like saying that you won’t drive a car because you don’t want to be a champion racer.
If you exercise regularly with resistance, you will have more muscle mass to feel, move and look better. Resistance training burns fat, improves balance, eases arthritis pain, builds bones, and helps us sleep better.
And if you want to avoid falls, it’s essential.
Two Women Who Love It
Here are two women who started after 60 and wear by it. We know countless more.
“Without even trying, I lost 25 pounds. I felt better than I ever had in my life,” says Margaret.
“I look like any other little, old lady,” says Barb, a retired physical therapist. “There is a wheelchair waiting for every one of us. And the point is to stay the hell out of it.”
Come see us now to put this deadly myth – and others – to rest once and for all.
Benefits of Exercise Have No Age Limit, Study Finds
A massive study made headlines by concluding that not exercising is worse for your health than smoking and diabetes.
But many readers over 50 will be glad to know that the study also has a huge age-related finding: The spectacular benefits of exercise have no age limit.
“Whether you’re in your 40s or your 80s, you will benefit in the same way,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
Sedentary people are almost four times as likely to die early as those who exercise regularly, says the study. It looked at 122,000 people who were tested on treadmills over 13 years.
“There actually is no ceiling for the benefit of exercise,” he said. “”There’s no age limit that doesn’t benefit from being physically fit.”
So, if you’re already exercising regularly, then keep it up.
But sadly, most Americans of all ages don’t get enough exercise. One bit of good news: People over age 70 are the fastest-growing segment of the population to use personal trainers, according to the Personal Training Development Center.
We believe what this study and the trend show – that exercise is right for everyone, regardless of age. Come see us, and let us show you how comfortable, safe and fun it is to stay healthy and live longer.
Healthy Recipe, Bison and Wild Rice Lettuce Wraps
Ground bison is leaner and more nutrient-dense than beef yet offers a similar flavor. In this gently tweaked recipe from “Smithsonian American Table: The Foods, People, and Innovations That Feed Us” (Harvest, $40), chef Nico Albert, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, combines it with mineral-rich wild rice to tuck into lettuce leaves. Tangy red-hued sumac spice, which is high in disease-fighting antioxidants, is well worth seeking out for its unique taste and other benefits, but if you can’t find it, grated lemon zest and juice will suffice. Adapt it for vegans by replacing the bison with more mushrooms. Serves 4-6. – Susan Puckett
- 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- 1 pound ground bison
- 8 ounces portobello or other sturdy wild mushrooms
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground sumac (or grated zest and juice of 1 lemon)
- 2 cups cooked wild rice (or wild rice blend)
- ½ cup small-diced jicama
- ½ cup small-diced celery
- ½ cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, mint, cilantro, or combination)
- ½ cup chopped scallions
- Little gem or romaine lettuce leaves
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the bison and sauté, breaking the meat into crumbles with a wooden spoon, until the meat is cooked through and some browned bits stick to the pan.
- Add the mushrooms, cranberries, salt, pepper, and sumac (or lemon juice and grated rind). Continue to cook, stirring frequently.
- When the mushrooms have softened, add 1 cup of water and stir, scraping the bottom or the pan to loosen up the flavorful browned bits. Cook until almost all the moisture has evaporated.
- Add the wild rice, jicama, and celery and stir to combine. When the mixture is heated through, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the herbs and scallions.
- To serve, spoon the mixture into the lettuce leaves and eat taco-style.
Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.