Strength Training for Older Adults Improves Longevity

senior woman weight training

Roll up your sleeves, flex your muscles, and get to work. That’s how Naomi Parker Fraley will be remembered. She’s the real Rosie the Riveter featured in the famous World War II marketing campaign designed to create a workforce of strong independent women. And she lived to be 96 years strong.

Want to live longer, be stronger, and maintain your independence as you age? You probably don’t need to sign up to build bombs or war planes, but doing activities to strengthen your muscles can make a difference.

In a recent study published in the journal Physical & Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics, researchers found that regular strength training and cardiovascular exercise help strengthen bones and muscles and improve mobility. And the sooner you get started, the better.

Think of exercise like a long-term investment. You put in a little time, sweat, and effort now, and the immediate rewards don’t look like much. But over time, a little exercise on a consistent basis pays off in a big way.

"Frailty progresses with aging,” says lead researcher Dr. Machiko Tomita. “But older women who engage in a high level of daily physical activity can reverse certain characteristics related to aging, such as slow walking and decreased function.”

Does that mean you need to become a powerlifter or run a marathon? Not at all. Simple bodyweight resistance exercises like push-ups, squats, and planks, can strengthen bones and muscles and improve balance. Aerobic activity like walking, cycling or swimming, will strengthen your heart and lungs.

If you need help with strength training, check YouTube for workout videos, or ask your gym if they offer strength training classes for seniors.

If you ramp up your activity level, you may need a few more calories from healthy food from our Senior-Friendly Menu to satisfy your hunger and keep your bones and muscles strong like Rosie the Riveter.