Some people in our community seem to have an aversion when it comes to strength training, and it seems to be rooted in the false idea that lifting heavy weight is either dangerous or will transform one into the Hulk.
Perhaps this belief was born from images of 1980s bodybuilders. They look freaky, no doubt. But the only way any of us normal people will get like that is with some serious doses of anabolic steroids. No ‘roids, no Hulk.
As for the dangers of strength training, the only real safety issue is if you aren’t getting proper instruction. We humans are designed to work hard and carry load. If we’re informed about how to lift weights properly, it’s a very safe activity.
Why should we engage in strength training?
Strength training is highly beneficial at any age. For our community, it helps allow us to maintain our independence in performing daily activities, reduces our risk of falling, and helps maintain bone density.
That last benefit is important: we inevitably face an increasing risk of osteoporosis as we age. Women, in particular, are at risk. Men over the age of 50 are more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than get prostate cancer, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. So if strength training can help us mitigate the effects of and delay this unwanted condition, why should we allow a silly, outdated stigma to prevent us from helping ourselves?
This negative attitude seems to be generational. Younger women I speak to are fine with lifting and don’t have negative images about it. It’s only us older folks – the ones whose muscle mass is shrinking and bones are becoming frail – the very ones who need it most, who have an aversion to it.
Effective strength training doesn’t always involve Hulk-like weight lifting or a copious amount of time. In fact, exercises as simple as squats, wall push-ups, and lifting light dumbbells (even just two or three pounds) can help us keep the bone density we’ve already got.
Of course, you’ll want to be sure to consult with your doctor before starting an exercise regimen. But it’s never too late to start.
Related: My Fitness Routine at Age 60
(By the way, strength training can help allay the signs and symptoms of several other conditions too! If osteoporosis doesn’t apply to you but you suffer from arthritis, back pain, diabetes, heart disease and/or obesity, then don’t wait too long to start lifting weights!)