The audience was an interesting mix of graduate students who study exercise for a living and elderly members from the university and surrounding community. I felt like there were some great points mentioned in the talk, which I will summarize briefly, but what was most eye opening to me was the reaction to the talk by the elderly participants.
Let me start by summarizing some of the key points that I was able to pick up from the presentation:
- As we age, our muscle mass decreases and our fat mass increases
- A lack of muscle mass can certainly lead to debilitation and lack of functionality in activities of daily living
- However, it is not just the amount of muscle we have, but the strength of the muscles that impacts not only our function, but also our health, including the risk of fatality from cancers and other diseases.
- Individuals are able to gain strength at ANY age
- While some [doctors, etc] may recommend supplementing/injecting human growth hormone, this has not shown to increase muscle mass, in fact it has shown a decrease from the control group.
- Testosterone has shown to be effective (in helping to increase muscle strength), but should only be used for men.
- Therefore we are back to the "eat right and exercise" mentality.
- Everyone should be performing resistance training exercises and also getting plenty of protein in their diet (around 1 g of protein per kg of your body weight per day).
So, some of this may be common knowledge... or perhaps it is just common knowledge to those of us who study this for a living. My main take-home message from today's talk comes from the questions that the elderly individuals asked after the presentation. I think they were certainly all convinced that they need to be doing resistance training in order to delay degeneration and extend their lives (and quality of life). However, the first question that was asked was, "Well, what is resistance exercise?" Followed by many questions to include, "what machines should I use, are there certain muscle groups I need to focus on, how many days a week should I do this, and how hard do I need to work?"
I felt that if I were working as an independent personal trainer right now, I probably could have walked out of there with 20+ new clients. There is now a captive group who have no idea what to do. Their questions kept coming, and while I felt that a lot of the exercise students may have been rolling their eyes a bit, to me this was an eye opener. It was interesting for me to realize that this lack of knowledge may be an additional reason why individuals are not exercising. Because it is my lifestyle, sometimes I forget that it may not be common knowledge.
Well the good news is that I am passionate about teaching others what to do, and I'm not the only one. Please know that I am here if you need help designing a program for yourself or for any of your family members (I do have a SeniorFit training certification).
Don't wait until you have lost muscle mass (and gained fat mass) to fix the situation... start today! I would highly advise that when you are putting a new program together or setting a new health goal, you consult a team of health professionals. Consult with your doctor to make sure you are cleared to exercise, and see if you have any limitations. Get at least one personal training session to learn how to safely use the equipment and have a program designed for your interests. And finally, consult a nutritionist to get an individualized nutrition plan for your specific needs (that fits both health concerns and fitness goals).
More than anything, don't be afraid to ask questions! I would be more than happy to answer your questions individually, or write a post for everyone to read about your topic of question.
Have a HEALTHY day!
~ Fit Britt