The Importance of Resistance Training for Baby Boomers

by Tim Imbriaco

March 04, 2014

Inevitably when faced with the prospect of embarking on a lifestyle change and an attempt to integrate a health plan people are left to face challenges. Most people I initially see in their 50s and 60s have similar concerns and thoughts;

What can I do to control my weight (body composition or fat percentage)?

I’ve had low/upper back pains and strains and don’t want to injure myself

How can I manage to find time to address my health with all of the demands of my life from home and career?

What is a sensible diet when there are so many differing opinions?

I know i should eat better and exercise but it’s hard to find the energy after my busy day

What’s the best form of exercise for me?

The answers to these questions in my mind have less to do with the traditional logic on exercise and diet and more to do with a systemic dysfunctional approach to mind/body integration. Many people have ideas on their bodies and their approach to how they can be turned towards health that are built on faulty paradigms;

  • A calorie is a calorie
  • Eat less / Exercise more
  • I should exercise because it’s good for me even if I don’t enjoy it
  • The faster and more I move the more exercise I’m getting

A wonderful resource on diet as it pertains the cycles of felt energy rising and falling throughout the day and the difficult task for many people to make headway in their struggles with weight is Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist from California who has been ringing the bell on sugar and the industrialized diet. His books Fat Chance and Sugar: A Bitter Truth and YouTube videos are a must reference I suggest to many of my clients. He presents in depth yet extremely accessible research into the science of obesity. Key points Dr. Lustig makes in an approach to diet is a thorough dismantling of the myths “A calorie is a calorie” and we all need to simply “Eat less and exercise more”. He speaks in depth to the science behind food and hormones, citing clear evidence that what you put into your system has an interactivity with your endocrine system, causing dysfunction in the body’s interactivity with insulin, leptin, dopamine and the intricate process of our hormones related to metabolism and weight management.

I try to lead all of my clients to a diet that is primarily based on quality fatty acids and proteins sourced from organic non industrialized animal sources. Including organic produce, nuts and dairy if it is from animal sources that have been grass fed. With an emphasis on a diet that minimizes if not eliminates processed foods, sugars and carbohydrates in an attempt to maximize the body’s insulin sensitivity and metabolism and minimizes it’s response to the hypo-glycemic and insulin resistant state that is all too common in a society that is now in a state with more than a third of it’s population to be considered obese (Check CDCs most recent study).

A diet that’s optimized towards metabolic efficiency is vital in the effects of managing body fat and giving us the energy to sustain under our extremely demanding lives, with pressures from work, school and home impacting our abilities to even find the time and energy to think about a trip to the gym. A stable blood sugar that gives us a sense of constant controlled energy is paramount in anyone’s plan to address lifestyle and fitness.

When people in their 50s and 60s do find the time and energy to make it into the gym they are invariably faced with the confusion of “What should I do for exercise that will best help me achieve my goals of fat loss, gained flexibility, cardiovascular health and a restored sense of vitality and energy.” Most people I see who reenter the gym after a prolonged absence resort to the last form of exercise they were regularly acquainted with, which in some cases has been decades. This can often lead to injury in the case of unassisted attempts at resistance training with weights or painful attempts to try to run as fast as they can stand in the belief that the faster they move the more beneficial exercise they are practicing.

The clearest outline I can give clients as they embark on a new regimen of exercise is a program design built primarily on resistance training with weights and interval based cardio that doesn’t negatively affect the body’s kinetic chain (muscular system, skeletal system and nervous system). Weight training that’s done correctly with guidance from a qualified trainer who’s well studied on exercise physiology, proper postural address and training protocols is an extremely powerful and effective way to;

  • Gain strength
  • Increase flexibility through a full range of motion
  • Address bone density deficiencies / Increase Osteo-health
  • Gain muscular and neuromuscular efficiency
  • Increase metabolism
  • Increase insulin sensitivity
  • Increase cardiovascular health
  • Correct bio mechanical dysfunction and pain patterning
  • Correct postural dysfunction that leads to chronic pain
  • And importantly resistance training has clearly shown in multiple studies to address body composition (fat loss) significantly more effectively than static paced cardio exercise.

Understandably this can be a daunting task to do on ones own. My recommendation is to always seek out a qualified trainer who can partner up with you to help build a program design that is ENJOYABLE to you. My philosophy is that external based exercise such as “I should do this” or “I know this is good for me” are not sustainable in building an approach to exercise. My primary focus is always on helping clients build an approach that is relationship based. I’ve been working out in gyms since 1985, and my ability to sustain the duration in exercise nearly injury free and with continual interest is rooted in an enjoyment of my gym time. It’s an opportunity where I can continually check in on my body in a way that gives me instant feedback. By helping clients build that relationship with themselves they see that in 45 or 50 minute session they can dramatically improve not only their physical health but their mental health as well. By setting a clear window of time that is demarcated as entirely addressed to their needs and goals clients send powerful messages to themselves that speak to them in real terms of their own value and the value of their health and bodies. These signals speak loudly to people who’ve dedicated themselves enormously to careers and causes, to friends and family members, to communities and to futures that need their contributions. By investing in their health these people can sustain the work and the play they enjoy with vitality, purpose and joy.

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