Reaching the north side of 50 has its ups - and a few challenges, too. From digging weeds to hauling groceries, daily living aches more, hurts more, and can leave us feeling tired. Although these deficits might seem an inevitable part of aging, most can be traced to a single cause—muscle loss.
By the time most of us hit 50, we've lost an astonishing 15 to 20% of our strength. The implications go way beyond how you look in a bathing suit. Hungry muscle cells burn calories, so less muscle means more fat. That extra weight increases the risk for lower back problems, osteoporosis, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancer.
It's not a pretty picture. But science proves that we can regain much of our energy, endurance and all-round good health through strength training. A story in the Wall Street Journal explores this emerging trend, spotlighting adults over 50 who used strength training to transform their lives, overcome age-related maladies, and regain the vitality of earlier years. And that's exactly what we're finding at Welcyon. A recent study reinforces the good news.
Our two-year study shows our members, on average, grow 50% stronger within three months of joining the club, and twice as strong within a year. Stats like these translate into a host of benefits, from playing a more energetic game of golf to reducing or eliminating cholesterol and blood pressure meds.
One beneficiary of our strength-training program is 51-year old Sandy. After injuring her back a couple years ago, she thought her days on the tennis court were over. Worse, her doctor told her she would need cortisone shots for the rest of her life.
“I can't do that,” Sandy said, and found a clinic willing to provide a non-pharmaceutical approach. Although a course of physical therapy improved her condition, she still wasn't ready to swing a racquet. Wanting to continue her progress, Sandy joined Welcyon, Fitness After 50. One of the club's on-site coaches assessed her health, helped her define goals, and created a program tailored to her needs.
In a year's time, Sandy's back strength improved by 80%, her abdominal muscles by 129% and her chest strength soared 400%. Now pain free and stronger, Sandy is back on the court and on top of her game again.
Sandy's experience is by no means an anomaly. Hundreds of Welcyon members have made dramatic strength gains. They look younger, feel better, and are building a strong foundation for healthy, active aging.
Sandy was one of more than 700 members studied over the course of 77,000 workouts. And mind you, these aren't muscle-shirted, iron-pumping gym rats. Most averaged just two strength-training sessions a week. They performed 13 strength exercises per workout on machines specially designed to minimize joint and ligament stress while building muscle.
All participants in the analysis saw dramatic strength improvements within three months, particularly in the legs. Quadriceps, so critical in walking speed and balance, averaged 200% gains for men and women. That translates into better performance for a host of activities, from running a 5K to holding a single-stance pose in yoga class. Stronger legs also reduce the likelihood of falls—one of the leading causes of bone fractures in the elderly.
Welcyon members also enjoyed huge gains in upper body strength, spanning 132 to 179% in the chest, and 120 to 153% in the upper back and neck. They also saw significant improvement in the abdomen and lower back—about 72% gains for men and women. The resulting improvements to posture and core strength enhance stability and balance, and greatly reduce nagging problems like lower back pain. Even better, aging athletes regain speed and stamina in a range of sports, from distance running and cross-country skiing to swimming and biking. Best of all, even resting muscle tissue burns calories. So building a tightened core is a great way to shed extra pounds.
About three in four of us don't exercise regularly - partly because it seems too hard and no fun. Our solution at Welcyon is to make it easy to start and see results fast by blending supportive coaching, safe, “smart” exercise equipment, and a welcoming, non-intimidating setting.
“Fortunately, a loss of muscle mass and muscle strength is reversible to a significant degree,” said Mark Richards, Welcyon's vice president of programming and the mastermind behind our strength-training approach. “Life is easier with a â€˜bigger engine' in the body because it provides more power, force, and stamina to do the physical things that we need, and want to do.”
So whether you join Welcyon or find a qualified trainer at your neighborhood gym, it's vital to take those first steps toward a fitter, healthier and more active life. Hitting the north side of 50 does not mean an inevitable southbound decline. Start strength-training. You'll feel better, look better and be ready to run life's marathon for many years ahead.
To learn how we can help you get stronger faster, visit our locations page for the Welcyon nearest you
And if there isn't a Welcyon close to you yet, and you're thinking it's time to open your own business, consider a Welcyon franchise.