I like weight training over 50. I like weight training over 60, and the guys at my YMCA who are in their 80’s call me “young blood”.

I would have thought that by the time I was 61, I would be past the time I would be teased about my relative youth.

Lifting is a wonderful tonic for the confidence, and the addition of women to the weight room is a boon to the weary eyes in my head.

Weight lifting has some real benefits to our physical and mental health, including the fitness of our brain.

More on that later, but resistance training can keep your muscle mass at any age, according to Elizabeth Quinn, at About.com. (link below)

“However, resistance training is the only type of exercise that can substantially slow, and even reverse, the declines in muscle mass, bone density, and strength that were once considered inevitable consequences of aging.”

Believe it or not, I am actually lifting more weight in some exercises than I did when I was a kid trying to make the Illinois State University football team.

That seems really remarkable, and it seems remarkable that I can skip rope the way I do, or walk down the rail road tracks and sustain my balance.

Of all the things I do at the YMCA, walking on the tracks, to practice my balance, important at 61, that is the behavior that folks talk to me about..

I have gotten better, and most folks will report that “they used to be able to do that…”

Lifting Children is Weight Training Over 50

What I like best is being able to keep my almost 11 year old son still contained.

He is aching for the day when he will be stronger than I am, and I am telling him that he is supposed to get bigger and stronger than I and I indicate that his getting bigger and stronger is something I am looking forward to, but in the mean time, you are all mine, child, and I tickle him mercilessly.

I am amazed at my wife’s comments to. She really notices when my muscle mass slips. I actually urge all my counseling clients to workout also.

In fact, she urged me to get an exercise program from Scott and Angie Tousignant, who have put together a program that couples can use together, which involves equipment like an exercise ball and dumbells, but leaves you panting and sweating.

Any program you chose should be very adaptible to your current level of conditioning and to level of intensity you want to use, the point being you can do a very healthy workout in 10 minutes using a HIIT or high intensity interval model, moving at your personal speed.

Another benefit? I mentioned in the first paragraph that lifting over 50 has some mental benefits, and those benefits include enhancing two recently discovered capacities that your brain has, called neurogenesis, and the other is neuroplasticity.

It turns out that we grow new brain cells every day, which is the neurogenesis. Until about 10 years ago, no one knew we could do this. Not sure about you, but I want to grow as many new brain cells as I can.

To keep those brain cells though, I need to challenge them with novel learning experiences like computerized brain fitness programs, or by learning a new language, or by learning a new musical instrument.

Whatever the learning is, it must increase in challenge level and offer good feedback.

I am not going to learn a new language at this stage of my life, and I do not have time to dedicate to a new instrument, but I can do computerized brain fitness programs, because I am online all day.

The research on the whole concept of brain fitness and how to get it or sustain it is laid out very well in the book Brainfit for Life written by Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D.

Please do not be intimidated by Ph.D. Their book is written for those of us who want to age well, and they go into great detail to lay out for us the benefits of taking care of what they call the “pillars of brain fitness” and it turns out the most important pillar is physical activity/exercise, which really boosts our new neuron growth, and our capacity for neuroplasticity, or forging new connections between neurons, which forms a cognitive reserve of connections which gives the brain pathways for signals to travel around “potholes of the brain”.

The other pillars are nutrition, including getting enough omega 3 fatty acid DAILY for neuronal health, sleep, stress management, and the novel learning experiences mentioned above.