Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Why I Resumed Weight Training at 60 Years Old

Here’s an excerpt from the book “The Barbell Prescription” written by Jonathan M. Sullivan, a medical doctor and PhD.  It really got my attention.

Strength training can slow, arrest, or even reverse many of the degenerative effects of aging:  loss of muscle and strength, brittle bones, floppy ligaments, frozen joints, and the decline of mobility and balance.

In the past, war, famine, and infectious diseases were the scourge of mankind.  Today the main killers are cardiovascular diseases and stroke.  Cancer runs second, while diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and respiratory diseases bring up the rear.  When infectious diseases do kill us, they tend to do so at the extremes of age and ill health.

A tragic manifestation of modern aging is the 65 year-old nursing home pretzel: diapered, immobile, sore ridden, tube fed, chronically dehydrated, kept alive until the insurance stops paying off, and finally allowed to die to open up the bed for a more lucrative replacement.

This obscenity is perpetuated by modern medicine’s ability to keep dead people breathing. 

Me? I have no intention of going quietly.  I am committed to growing older with as much strength, vigor, and function as I possibly can.

Lifting weights at any age has its rewards, but after 50 it can literally change your life.  The prescription for stiff joints, sore backs, and sleeping trouble is lifting weights. Pumping iron can increase bone density, reverse osteroporosis,and raise testosterone in older men!

Strength training (lifting weights) has long been thought of as the domain of burly young men.  Sure, a 22 year old bodybuilder can train a lot harder than a 60 year old grandmother, and he might even look better with his shirt off.  But the 60 year old needs to train in a way that Gym Bro cannot begin to fathom.  The 22 year old is pumping iron to look good on the beach.  The older person is engaged in a death match for existence, fighting to hang on to tissue, mobility, independence, and years of quality living.

In my remaining years I want to be active, in shape, continue gardening, throw my cast net like a boss, jog on the beach, lift heavy things, live as productively as possible, and passionately pursuing the things that mean the most to me.  I want to run my race well and cross the finish line strongly.

Dr. Sullivan says, “Exercise is the most powerful medicine in the world.  No drug in the world will ever match the power of exercise medicine.  Not drug in the world will ever confer so many beneficial effects to so many organ systems, at so little cost, with so few side effects.

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