Strength training for older adults

  • Published: Monday, May 16, 2016
  • Reviewed Date: Monday, July 2, 2018

Senior couple lifting dumbbellsAs we age, many of us start to worry about our ability to perform everyday tasks like putting groceries away, mowing the yard or sweeping the floor. Muscle mass diminishes with age, contributing to such concerns.

Strength training can be a powerful antidote to that loss of muscle mass. Studies show that regular strength training helps build bone, preserve strength and prevent the loss of muscle mass and development of chronic diseases — and that it’s effective for women and men of all ages, whether they are 30 or 85. It is never too late for older adults to start strength training.

Miriam Nelson, founder of the StrongWomen program and author of several strength training books, highlights the following potential strength training benefits:

  • Arthritis relief, with less pain and stiffness and increased flexibility and strength
  • Reduced risk of falls, with an increased sense of balance
  • Weight management, with metabolism increased by as much as 15 percent
  • Increased bone density, helping prevent osteoporosis
  • Reduced risk for chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease
  • Increased ability to do everyday tasks
  • Increased self-confidence and sense of well-being, with a healthy state of mind
  • Improved sleep

University of Missouri Extension offers a strength training program for middle-aged and older adults called Stay Strong, Stay Healthy. Consult a physician before starting this or any other strength training program. 

Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults,
Vibrant Aging Overview,


Tammy Roberts

Nina Chen

For more information

Kelsey Weitzel

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