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Think again about lifting weights into your old age

July 31, 2007

Linda Shrieves

Scientific research has consistently shown that lifting weights provides benefits, particularly to adults older than 40.

As we age, most adults lose between five and seven pounds of muscle every decade. And here's a note of caution for baby boomers: We experience a 30 percent decrease in strength between the ages of 50 and 70.

But there are other benefits of strength-training:

- Strength-training appears to ward off osteoporosis and appears to slow osteoarthritis.
- A 2002 study conducted by Yale University researchers found that frail senior citizens living at home gained strength -- and would reduce their chances of falling or being admitted to nursing homes -- by doing resistance training.

A prominent Harvard researcher recommends that seniors starting an exercise program begin with weight training, not walking. Although many doctors advise seniors to begin walking because it seems safe, frail people may lose their balance and fall. Balance, it turns out, depends on muscle strength.

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