A couple of years ago Carole Lewis, our national director of First Place 4 Health, took a nasty fall from her bike and just a week later, she had an encounter with a dog leash attached to a very big dog. Knocked off her feet twice in a row, she was okay (amazingly) and suffered nothing more than a couple of scrapes and bruises. A lesser woman would have broken a hip or shoulder. In fact, according to recent studies from the Center for Disease Control, one out of three adults 65 years and older will experience a fall, which in most cases will lead to head injuries, hip fractures and even in some cases, an early death.1 What made the difference for Carole? Two powerful words: strength training. “In 2007, over 18,000 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries. The death rates from falls among older men and women have risen sharply over the past decade. In 2009, 2.2 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 581,000 of these patients were hospitalized.”2
The sad truth is that most of these falls either could have been prevented, or the extent of the injuries could have been dramatically less if strength training was a regular part of daily activity. While there is no question that Carole is an amazing woman, her lifestyle of regularly taking care of her body and building her muscles prepared her to survive and thrive despite the accidents.
Do you want to live a longer and stronger life?
A regular discipline of strength training will help you to not only live longer, but live better.
When my mom passed away, we had a big estate sale. We all gathered there at the old home place and started toting out things into the front yard. There were probably ten of us there: Me, my sister, my 23-year-old son, Mark, and lots of male cousins. Funny thing, when it came to the heavy lifting, Mark and I were the only ones able to do it! I had one male cousin supervising because of his “bad back.” There were two others on strict doctor’s orders for no heavy lifting, due to recent heart attacks, and another with blood pressure problems. So that left me and Mark! We carried out wall units and moved most everything that was heavy. At the time it was really funny—here I am, just a girl, doing all the heavy lifting! Those guys should have been embarrassed. How grateful I am that I am strong! I have worked hard on maintaining my strength over the years by lifting weights.
As I’ve continued to study, work with others and experience weight training in my own life, I’ve discovered eight compelling reasons to pursue strength training on a regular basis. As you consider these reasons, think through which one would motivate you to want to pursue God’s best for your body and life.
- Strength training helps combat osteoporosis. When you “stress” your skeletal muscles, you “stress” your skeleton. Bones become stronger and denser, as do the surrounding muscles.
- Strength training helps combat age-related problems and degenerative diseases that contribute to the “aging” of our bodies. Much of the bone and muscle loss that we attribute to aging is actually caused by lack of use.
- Strength training helps you tone. Lean muscles take up less space. As you develop strength, take your body measurements and be encouraged! Remember that muscle is the primary calorie burner. Because muscle tissue is active tissue and consumes calories; the more lean body tissue you have, the more calories you burn all day long! Strength training helps rehabilitate and strengthen previously injured or weak muscle groups by increasing range of motion and strengthening connective tissue.
- Strength training can help correct muscle imbalances. Two thirds of all our muscles are above our waist and are hardly touched by many popular aerobic activities.
- Strength training provides extra abdominal work, when the abdominals are properly used to stabilize the torso during many weight-bearing exercises.
- Strength training makes many activities in everyday life easier. This is “practical fitness” as you go about your “activities of daily living,” lifting heavy grocery bags, picking up babies, moving furniture, etc. The stronger you are, the easier it is to move, and the more you will accomplish.
- Strength training lifts depression by lifting our spirits and increasing our overall confidence with being and feeling stronger. Imagine Caleb at 85 giving an inspirational talk at your church or company about taking on the giants. As you develop your strength training, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel about work, talking with others and playing with your children at the park or pool.
Be intentional in becoming strong in the Lord and in our bodies; it does not happen by accident. You will experience the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ and if that is what you desire, you cannot fail … get up and lift something!
With all my heart,
1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Falls Among Older Adults: An Overview.” http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/adultfalls.html (accessed April, 2011)