For Staying Healthy Later in Life, This Is the Most Important Type of Exercise

Here’s a short fitness quiz.

Which type of exercise is the miracle drug for people over 50, helping them to prevent falls, ward off dementia, maintain weight and blood pressure, and enjoy their favorite activities late into life?

  1. Walking
  2. Jogging
  3. Swimming
  4. Strength Training


Believe it or not, it’s #4.

Many mature Americans don’t automatically think of strength training when they think about the kinds of exercise they need. They worry strength training (also known as resistance training and weightlifting) will give them huge muscles, or they fear it’s dangerous. Or they think it’s just for young people who want to look like superheroes.

But in fact, nothing is further from the truth.

At Vivo, our research proves conclusively that strength training is absolutely essential to healthy aging, independence, and quality of life.

Muscle Loss Is Natural, But Avoidable

To show what we mean, we talked to Dr. Kathryn Starr, a researcher at the Duke University School of Medicine, and two Vivo fitness clients, who share how weightlifting has changed their lives.

“We lose approximately 30 percent of our muscle mass and strength between 50 and 80,” says Dr. Starr, who is on the Vivo advisory board. “We lose power. We lose response time. All of that contributes to the higher incidence of falls among older people, which are highly dangerous and can be fatal.”

Dr. Kathryn Starr, PhD, Researcher at the Duke University School of Medicine

Preventing falls isn’t just about balance. It’s about having enough muscle to “correct” ordinary stumbles and remain upright.

But we can fight back against muscle loss – by lifting weights, using resistance bands, or performing body-weight exercises, yoga or Pilates to give us that crucial resistance.

Here’s some of what resistance training does for us:

  • Grows and maintains muscle
  • Helps us perform ordinary daily tasks independently – like getting out of a chair, or bringing in groceries
  • Improves posture, breathing, circulation and sleep.
  • Strengthens bones to lower chance of fractures, even among  those with osteoporosis
  • Relieves joint pain

Older Adults Need More Protein to Power Muscle

Dr. Starr further explains that mature adults need to eat more protein, the building block of muscle, to maintain their strength. Younger people typically need 0.8 grams of protein per body weight to keep what they have. But older people need 1.2g.

The best protein has all the essential amino acids and is largely animal based, like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, soy, beans and legumes.

Other exercise is helpful, of course, but it’s not enough. 

“You can walk as much as you want, but it’s not the same as strength training, as pushing against resistance – that’s what builds muscle and makes bones stronger,” Dr. Starr says.

“Until your dying day, we can make sure you’re building strength and gaining confidence.”

The Vivo method takes all of this knowledge and provides you with:

  • Expert assessments
  • Small group training that’s live (not recorded)
  • Individual interaction with a coach
  • Challenging workouts that bring the necessary results

Meet Pat and Debby: It Works for Them

Pat Bruce’s knee hurt so bad that she was convinced she needed a knee replacement. And she wasn’t surprised, after working a desk job and fighting an hour-long commute each way every day for years and years.

But her orthopedist said weak quadricep muscles in her legs were the problem, not a busted knee.

So, after retiring last December, Pat, 64, took a long vacation and went walking every day. She quickly noticed her knee started feeling better and better all the time. 

She wondered if more exercise would help, and soon checked out a Vivo class from the comfort of home.

“I thought, ‘I can do that,’” she recalls now, even though she had never lifted weights or exercised regularly. “So, I started doing the workouts. And the next thing I knew, my knee wasn’t hurting at all anymore.”

After six months, Pat’s doctor told her that she’d even lost 15 pounds.

“That wasn’t my motivation, but I’ll take it,” she says.

Her grandkids provided the motivation. She wants to play with them and watch them grow up.

“The first time I knew I’d be lifting weights, I thought, ‘There’s no way I can do that.’ But we started with resistance bands and worked our way up, with different choices and variations for everyone when we needed them.

“Now, I can do weights – and I don’t have to worry about getting stuck on the floor with my grandkids anymore.”

Debby Snodgrass, 67, also recently retired and, like Pat, she had never lifted weights before starting to exercise with Vivo.

“It’s good for my knees. I’m sleeping through the night better than I have in years,” she says, and she has more confidence navigating around the house without worrying so much about falls.

“Oh, weightlifting is necessary – it’s just part of life now,” she says plainly. “If you don’t lose your muscles, you lose them. If we retire early and do nothing, then we die because of it. 

“This is an investment in myself. I think about what I’m going to need in 10 years or in 20 years. I’m going to need some muscles and strength, so this isn’t for me right now. It’s for me in the future.

“I’m gonna have fun in my older years whenever they decide to come.”

Pat and Debby have learned the answer to our quiz.

Let Vivo show you how resistance training can help you enjoy your life today and make deposits in your fitness bank to draw on later. 

Call us today.