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Don't forget to add strength training to your exercise regimen

July 1, 2013

There's no denying there are significant differences between older adults and their younger counterparts, but one thing these generations have in common is the amount of exercise they need to stay healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get around 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each day. While the guidelines for aerobic activity may be the same, experts say strength training may play a more important role in the healthy lifestyle for seniors than it does for younger individuals.

It's important to add variety to your workout routine, and the strength component becomes essential as you age because it can reduce the risk of a fall. According to the CDC, an estimated one-third of adults 65 and older experience a fall each year, but strength training can improve balance, flexibility and stability, all of which help reduce the chances of falling. Despite the benefits of strength training, it often goes overlooked.

"A big issue as you age is the risk of falling. And strength training that builds muscle power helps prevent falls," Todd Miller, an associate professor in the Department of Exercise Science at George Washington University, told the newspaper. "People should do a combination of both cardio and strength, [but there is an] overemphasis on cardio and underemphasis on strength."

Aside from helping seniors avoid falls, strength training offers many other benefits to healthy aging. According to a 2009 study, one variety of strength exercise, known as progressive resistance training, helped seniors improve their ability to complete activities of daily living. It also reduced pain stemming from osteoarthritis, a common condition among the senior population.