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Research shows that strengthening exercises are both safe and beneficial to people of all ages. Strength training is perhaps most beneficial for those who have chronic health issues such as heart disease or arthritis. Strengthening exercises can relieve or reduce the signs and symptoms of numerous conditions including diabetes, obesity, osteoarthritis, back pain, and depression.
Tufts University conducted a strength training program with older adults who had moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis. Results from their study showed that the regular exercise decreased pain by 43%, increased muscle strength and general physical performance, as well as decreased disability from the disease. In addition, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) noted that similar results have been found with people who have rheumatoid arthritis.
Also, older adults are more prone to falls due to poor balance and limited flexibility. In some cases, falls lead to fractures which may result in disability or even death. Strengthening exercises can improve balance and flexibility. A New Zealand study which involved women 80 years of age found a 40% reduction of falls when they performed simple strength training exercises.
Studies have also shown that lifestyle changes such as strength training have a significant impact on helping older adults manage their diabetes. In a study of Hispanic men and women, 16 weeks of strength training produced dramatic improvements in glucose control that are comparable to taking diabetes medication.
If you are interested in learning more about strength training to reduce symptoms of chronic disease and improve balance and flexibility, plan on attending the Strong Women/Strong Seniors program. Strong Women/Strong Seniors is designed for adults 40 and over and includes one hour of strength training exercises twice a week along with some nutritional information. Participants are given a physical assessment before and after the 12-week program to determine how they have improved in strength and functional fitness.
Penn State Extension, Franklin County, is offering six Strong Women/Strong Seniors programs:
- Mondays and Wednesdays from January 16-February 22 from 9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. at the New Guilford in Christ Church in Fayetteville;
- Tuesdays and Thursdays from January 17-February 23 from 10:00 a.m.-11:00a.m. at the Church of the Brethren in Chambersburg;
- Tuesdays and Thursdays from January 10-February 1 from 9:30 a.m.- 10:30 a.m. or from 6:00p.m.-7:00p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Mercersburg;
- Tuesdays and Thursdays from January 10-February 16 from 9:00a.m.-10:00a.m. at the Memorial Lutheran Church in Shippensburg;
- Mondays and Wednesdays from February 6-March 14 from 5:45p.m.-6:45p.m. at Montessori Academy in Chambersburg.
For more information, call Penn State Extension at 717-263-9226. To register, call toll free 1-877-489-1398 or visit http://extension.psu.edu/franklin/events and select the session you want. The events are sorted by date at the link.
Walk-ins are welcome at any time during the session.
More details about the origins of this program can be found here and here.