Strength Training: The Key to Healthy Aging



As someone trained in gerontology, I have always had a passion to help older adults lead healthier and more productive lives. Now that I am a certified personal trainer I have the opportunity to really focus on the key to making that happen–strength training. Let me explain.

You may be aware that as we get older we naturally lose muscle mass, but did you know that there are two different types of fibers that comprise a muscle cell? These two types are Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 muscle fibers (slow twitch) are endurance fibers. Type 2 fibers (fast twitch) are used for movements that require strength and power. As we age, it is the Type 2 fibers that we lose, and it is the atrophy of these fibers that are mainly responsible for the loss of muscle mass and strength, which in the sedentary adult, often results in obesity, chronic disease (hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, etc.), frailty (osteopenia and osteoporosis), and dependence on prescription drugs.

Fortunately, Type 2 muscle fibers remain responsive to strength training, and actually helps promote their salvage, retention, and development. Moreover, research has shown that by focusing on strength, other important attributes of fitness are addressed as well, including power, mobility, balance and body composition. Being trained in all of these areas of fitness results in one’s ability to better perform activities of daily living–all of those activities that promote independence, purpose, and joy.

Let me be clear though. In order to build strength and all of these other attributes of fitness, you must commit to more than exercising–you must train! (See my blog post on exercise vs. training) It will take time and commitment but the tradeoffs are huge. Instead of living a life of dysfunction and disease, you can live with health and vitality. The tagline of LifeChange Fitness is “It’s Your Life.” Make it an amazing one!

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