More ‘Can Do’ conversations

Couple Working on machinesThis is the second post relating my recent conversations about ‘Usual’ vs ‘Successful’ Aging with a group of older adults. I was comparing what ‘usually’ happens with strength to what can happen … and what actually does happen with persons in their ‘second fifty years’ who regularly participate in a strength training program. As I said in my previous post, I spent some time talking to members of the audience after the talk, and we discussed a number of important points relating to active, healthy aging.  I wanted to share the rest of these with you in this second post.
You CAN read on now!

As with the initial post, I have also included a number of photos and testimonials from participants in past programs.

Escalante Leg PressOf course the conversation in this group turned, as it always does, to the question of weight loss.

“Ok so what about weight loss? Is strength training good for that too?”

Here’s what ‘usually’ happens:
We gain about one pound of body fat per year from the age of 30. By the time we hit 70 we have gained about 15% body fat more than we had in our 30s.  So far so not good!
Here’s what you CAN DO:
First of all, as you increase your muscle mass with strength training, you give your metabolism (your body’s energy expenditure) a permanent ‘boost’. This makes it easier to lose body fat. Strength training also makes it easier to perform aerobic exercise (another way to increase energy expenditure) because it will have increased your strength and endurance.


“Dr. Wayne’s program at the Senior Center is and has been of great benefit to me. In just a few short weeks my strength is noticeably improved and improving with every session. My weight is dropping and my breathing easier. Two days ago I walked outside for almost two miles. Happily I am recovering my health and am grateful” Thea, 82

In support of Thea’s claim of weight loss, above, the importance of strength training in weight management has recently been confirmed by The American College of Sports Medicine, the world’s largest and most respected fitness, health and wellness organization. They recommend strength training as an important part of a weight management program. Here’s what they said…


… the inclusion of resistance training in weight loss programs has clear advantages. Resistance training is a potent stimulus to increase fat-free mass (FFM), muscular strength, and power and thus may be an important component of a successful weight loss program by helping to preserve FFM while maximizing fat loss.

Finally, a number of women asked…

“Can strength training stop- or at least slow –  my bone loss?”

Here’s what ‘usually’ happens: The average woman loses about 1% of bone mass each year and after menopause this rate can almost double during the first 5 menopausal years. By age 60 some 20% or more of pre-menopausal bone mass may be lost.
Here’s what you CAN DOAn appropriately designed strength training program can actually reverse the process of bone loss! Studies as short as 16 weeks have been shown to increase bone strength and reduce the risk for fractures among older women. But here’s the thing. To increase bone strength you have to be working at a pretty high level of effort – around 70% of your maximal strength for these exercises. Working at lower levels can still increase your muscle strength. But just using those thin rubber bands or those small dumbbells won’t cut it for bone strength. Though your muscles may get stronger with this form of exercise, bones need more intensity to be made to grow. The good news is that, under normal circumstances, most people – and all the people  I have worked with over the years – are able to safely build up to these levels of effort with no pain or discomfort.

The bottom line from this conversation – and from the many other posts on this blog – is that you CAN lose weight, you CAN increase your bone strength and you CAN have a life that is more than ‘the Usual!

“Thank you for providing this program. I believe it has added a new dimension to my life. It has put some bounce into my life and also helps my mental attitude. Also, a word of commendation to the excellent supervisors, they are the best!” Lois, 75

QUESTION: What kind of CAN do see yourself doing with greater strength?

Be part of the conversation – record your thoughts or opinions on this post in the comments box below – or ask a question of your own.
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