Strength training can boost seniors' muscle strength by 100%, warding off falls

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Seniors who engage in strength training may be able to gain muscle and become less susceptible to falls, according to one expert.

More than 800 Americans suffer a hip fracture each day, many of which were caused by falls, Christopher Sciamanna, M.D., with the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, noted in an article posted last week to Penn State Health News. Seniors with lower muscle mass and bone density made up the majority of people who fell and suffered fractures.

But seniors can combat that bone and muscle deterioration through strength training, Sciamanna shared. While the training could seem intimidating to some seniors compared to “easy” activities such as walking, helping them understand which weights to choose and when to up the resistance can pay off in the long run.

“Strength training is progressive,” Sciamanna said. “If you never change the resistance, you'll never get much stronger.”

The training can also help seniors gain up to three more pounds of muscle each year than people who don't strength train. People as old as age 80 have increased their muscle strength by 100% following a year of regular strength training, Sciamanna said.

Sciamanna added that the benefits of strength training can be found using equipment in a gym, or elastic bands at home. The most important thing is that the training consistently works different body parts, and keeps progressing.

“It's important because if you can't walk without a walker, you can't really spend your golden years doing all the things you wanted to do,” Sciamanna said.