BLUE SPRINGS, Mo.–Strength training isn’t just for young people, says a University of Missouri Extension human development specialist.

“Studies show that strength exercises are effective whether you are 30 or 85,” said Nina Chen.

Muscle mass diminishes as we age. This can lead to injuries and balance problems and leave older adults without the strength for everyday activities such as climbing stairs and carrying groceries.

But strength training can help slow this process, Chen said. Research at Tufts University reveals a number of benefits from regular strength training:

-Reduced arthritis pain and stiffness, and increased flexibility and strength.

-Reduced risk of falls and better balance.

-Increased metabolism—as much as 15 percent, which is enormously helpful for weight loss and long-term weight control.

-Increased bone density, which prevents 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.

Strength training doesn’t have to involve heavy weights and strenuous exertion. Strength-building exercises for older adults typically involve gentle bends and stretches, sometimes with 1- to 3-pound hand weights.

“No matter how old we are, we don’t have to get weaker with age,” Chen said.

If you would like to start doing strength training, consult with your physician first. You can also contact your local University of Missouri Extension Center to find out about strength-training classes in your area.

MU Extension’s Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program for older adults offers 10-week strength-training classes in a number of Missouri counties. To learn more, see or call 573-884-0971.

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