Earlier this week I was chatting on the phone with one of my runners, a 66-year old female. I will call her Jane Doe. She loves running and has placed within her age group in local races. In general, she is shy, quiet, and very compliant. She has the attitude of “tell me what to do and I will do it” and quite frankly, it is because she is afraid to make mistakes. This fear is rooted in the fact that she came to me stuck in the injury cycle.
In working together over the last 8-months, we have been able to get her out of injury city and to a personal best in the half marathon. Over the last 3-months we were building up for a marathon and, like many races planned in the first half of 2020, COVID-19 has shut it down to help prevent further spread. Prior to the race cancellation, I was certain if we stayed the path we were on, we would continue to stave off injury and onto a marathon PR for her.
With the cancellations of races here, there, and everywhere, along with many corners of the globe going to stay at home orders for many of the working population, I wanted to give my runners something to focus on that would challenge them and boost their health and fitness with their now reduced mileage since their marathons were cancelled. I offered them a one-month resistance training program that they could do at home, delivered to them on an app on their cell phones.
While explaining the resistance program to Jane Doe, she told me that she has never worked out in a gym, nor lifted weights for that matter, so she was both nervous and excited. What she doesn’t know is that she is getting an incredible gift. Have you ever heard of age-related loss of muscle mass? Do not be shocked when I tell you that age related loss of muscle mass begins gradually at the age of 30 and accelerates after the age of 60. Age of 30? What? How many of my readers surpassed age 30 a decade or two or three ago? Remember the old saying “use it or lose it”? Same story with muscle folks, starting very early in life.
Don’t you worry though, you can attenuate this loss with resistance training, as it is well-documented in scientific literature, including a 2019 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research I am currently using as my reference. Let me just list for you the benefits associated with resistance training as we age and in parentheses, I will follow it up with what it means to you most. 1 - Slows down age related intra-muscular adipose infiltration (slows down that “after 40-50-yr old weight gain” many people complain about). 2 - Improves physical performance (helps you stand up from sitting on the ground faster without assistance). 3 - Improves muscle quality (a bit of definition). 4 - Improves bone density (more resistant to osteoporosis). 5 - Improve insulin sensitivity (body uses glucose more effectively, decreasing blood sugar). 6 -Improves psychological well-being (works the crazy out of you. Just kidding, but a lot of research shows exercise has antidepressant and anti-anxiety side effects). 7 - Management of chronic health conditions (obesity, remember that intra-muscular adipose infiltration or the improvement of insulin sensitivity, type II diabetes prevention). 8 - Let’s get real, the benefits go on and on.
In an aging, yet healthy person absent of disease, comes biological changes that decrease muscle mass, strength, and function. All the previously mentioned factors compromise physiological resilience. In today’s atmosphere of angst, fear, and uncertainty of the pandemic fueled by COVID-19, physiologic resilience is a must. Let us not forget that movement is medicine and your health is your wealth. What about running? I am supplementing my runners’ run training with the resistance training. Research supports that concurrent training, a combination of strength, power, and endurance training in older adults seems to be the most effective strategy to counteract declines in muscle mass, strength, cardiorespiratory fitness and functional capacity.
If you didn’t know, along with being a running coach, I am a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, with a master’s degree in kinesiology (the study of movement), as well as a certified online trainer. I can deliver custom made resistance training programs designed with the equipment you have at home, as well as budget friendly programs. Check out the services section of my website!www.runwithgina.comwww.runwithgina.com