Written by Guest | October 31st, 2019Our goal here at BestCompany.com is to provide you with the honest, reliable information you need to find companies you can trust.
Guest Post by Nicholas Rizzo
As a parent, there is so much going on that requires the majority of your time and attention. With kids on the mind, it is easy to get in the habit of forgetting to direct any of that time and attention to yourself.
Several of my friends literally feel guilty when going to the gym. As they put it, “I should just be spending that time with my kids. When they grow up I will have more than enough time for that stuff.”
This may give you more time with your kids now. It may even make you feel good as you recognize your self-sacrifice for your kids. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more wrong.
Finding time to invest in your health, well-being, and happiness is obviously good for you in general, but it is also beneficial for you as a parent. Whether it is healthy eating or physical activity, modeling healthy behaviors and self-care while raising kids is crucial.
When it comes to getting active, it’s always best to just do what you enjoy doing the most. That being said, the one activity every parent should be making time for is strength training.
We all know that building strength and muscle is beneficial for your health and wellness. What you probably don’t know is just how beneficial weightlifting can be, specifically for aging populations.
Making strength training a part of your lifestyle now, rather than later, provides lifelong benefits. If you are already aging faster than you would like, don’t worry, it isn’t too late. You can start to see significant improvements in your physical, mental, and emotional health in a short period of time.
A meta-analysis of over 120 studies broke down the benefits of weightlifting for seniors. If you’d like to see just how beneficial it can be overall, feel free to check out the RunRepeat Analysis here. When it comes to parents, there were three prominent reasons to stop procrastinating and start weightlifting now.
You can age with more independence
Unfortunately, not all things get better with time. Although I’d like to picture myself being a grey-haired, well-aged, fine wine of a grandpa, that doesn’t apply to your muscle and strength.
The following statistics can be found at the RunRepeat Link above.
We begin losing muscle as we age. The older you get, the faster your rate of muscle loss becomes. People in their 50s can expect to lose about 1–2 percent of their muscle mass every year.
Your overall strength begins to decline as well. From age 50-60, you begin to lose 1.5 percent of your strength every year. Once you are in your 60s, that rate of strength decline doubles.
Studies suggest that strength training is the number one way to prevent this age-related muscle loss from occurring in the first place.
Just being active, like taking walks, gardening, or playing a sport isn’t the same either. Those who had been strength training had better functional performance and capabilities than seniors who were physically active.
Training with weights does more than just build your muscle and strength. It also has the following benefits:
- Overall ability to control your movements and maintain balance, whether you are on the move or staying still
- Flexibility in literally every single joint movement
- The speed, efficiency, and safety of functional performance tests like walking, going up and down the stairs, bending over, standing up, or sitting down.
Living functionally independent is a goal that everyone should have regardless of being a parent or not.
There is one distinct difference for parents as they don’t want to become a burden on their children’s lives by having to rely on adult children to take care of them. You wouldn't want your child to turn down a dream job because it is in a different state or choose to forgo a college scholarship to stay close to home.
Whether you realize it or not, having your kids be your caregiver can come at a high cost mentally and emotionally for them. Think about your children and what effect your decisions have on them before you decide to let your health go.
Keeping weight off as you age doesn’t get any easier
Remember when you were in your late teens or early twenties when you could eat anything you wanted to without putting on a bunch of weight?
Unfortunately, those years are gone. And the older you get, the harder it is to keep off the weight.
Aging leads to a lot of changes in your body and impacts everything from entire organ systems all the way down to individual cells. Though these changes are unavoidable, it doesn’t mean you can’t fight back.
Working out can help improve hormone levels that play a role in not only your weight but a slew of other important health factors. The obvious way that weightlifting can help you keep the weight off is by improving your metabolism. There are two specific ways that it helps:
- Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)
Working out with weights leads to an immediate increase in your metabolic rate that can last for 24–48 hours. With greater strength, you can actually lift heavier weights. The heavier the weights you are lifting, the greater intensity of your workout. The higher intensity of your work out leads to a bigger boost to your metabolism. (Data pulled from the RunRepeat Study mentioned above)
- Basal metabolism
Having higher muscle mass and doing intense physical activity consistently, provides you with an elevated metabolism. Helping your body burn more fat all day. One study found that seniors who underwent 10 weeks of strength training saw their metabolic rate increase by an average of 7 percent. (Data pulled from the RunRepeat Study mentioned above)
Keeping off the weight as parents is important because you want to avoid all of the negative health implications of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues. It also becomes increasingly important when you consider...
Strength training is directly associated with living longer and improving brain health
This shouldn’t be a surprise. But regardless, the data is shocking.
A massive, 15-year cohort study connected The National Health Interview Survey data from 1997 to 2001 and the National Death Index. What they found was that strength training twice a week, for adults over the age of 65, cuts the rate of all-cause mortality by almost 50 percent! This remained true regardless of the other health behaviors and health status of these individuals.
Although not weightlifting specific, a European study followed up with over 330,000 volunteers over 12.4 years. What they found is that 20 minutes of light exercise a day can reduce the risk of early death by as much as 30 percent, showing just how important simply being active can be.
By starting earlier and maintaining the habit of weightlifting throughout your life, you are making an investment with serious ROI. That’s because it can give you more of the one thing we have a limited amount of time — more time to see your children grow up and become adults. To see your children have their own children. More time that allows you to experience all of the other beautiful milestones in life.
As we live longer, other issues can potentially arise. Aging can come with declines in cognitive health. It can start as you begin to become more and more forgetful and continues in a downward spiral from there.
This is why strength training is so critical. It has been shown to directly increase the levels of specific, critical molecules for brain health. In the study done by RunRepeat, it was concluded that these molecules not only play a role in maintaining brain health but also improving it.
Molecules like BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) are the best example. BDNF influences the growth and survival of neurons and their connections in your brain, allowing it to directly support the ability to learn new things, form new memories, hold onto old memories, engage in higher-level thinking, and avoid issues like confusion on a daily basis.
Again, even though it is best to start sooner, there is no such thing as too late. Even those who have experienced declines in memory and cognition were able to see significant improvements as a result of strength training. (Data pulled from the RunRepeat Study mentioned above)
The science is clear. Lifting weights helps you to live a more fulfilled and independent life both personally and as a parent. Making time to take control of this aspect of your life will have long-lasting rewards. Every little bit helps. Whether it is 10 minutes here or 20 minutes there, it will be of benefit to you. Invest some time and see how your health pays you back.
Nicholas Rizzo is the Training Director for RunRepeat.com.