Strength training is crucial as people age

Sue Elo is keenly interested in helping seniors discover the improved overall vitality that comes from increased activity.

Sue Elo, 62, started running in her 40s and has been getting faster ever since. After falling off a horse in 2008, she realized that her improved fitness helped save her from getting injured. A personal trainer since her late 50s, her company is LTY Fitness and she works with Fitness on the Go (an in-home personal training franchise).

Elo is keenly interested in helping seniors discover the improved overall vitality that comes from increased activity.

She’s a member of Duncan’s Intelligent Aging Advisory Panel, which provides a comprehensive range of resources to local seniors.

Her approach to exercise is straightforward.

“I work out so that I can continue to enjoy the activities I love, eat lots of healthy food, and savour good wines. And now that I know how to do it properly, I enjoy exercise for its own sake,” she said.

“Several of my clients have started out by emphasizing how much they hate exercise so I start out by showing them just a few exercises; within two weeks they’re asking for more.”

Her own experience has shown her this is the way to go.

“Being fit has helped me to continue to participate in a range of activities: musical theatre, riding horses, running, gardening on one and a half acres. I don’t have time for sore knees, back, hips, but I used to suffer from all of those things.”

Fitness is really vital for seniors, she said.

“They usually don’t really know what to do. Seniors know they need to move around but they also need to know that strength training is absolutely critical to everybody and how to do that safely. It’s essential to have strength training in addition to cardio work. It’s great to show people how to do that. It’s not rocket science and it works.”

Lots of older folks equate strength training with mental pictures of strong men with barbells and Elo chuckled at that image.

“Well, that’s what it is. It’s lifting weights. I don’t use barbells, of course, but it is lifting weights. You have to keep challenging your muscles. The coolest thing: muscles don’t age. You can build muscle until you die. So, you can keep building. I am stronger now than I was when I was 20 by miles. You can do it, and you can keep doing it into your 90s and beyond,” she said.

Strength training is a foundation stone of a healthy life as we age.

“This is what keeps people standing. This is what prevents falls, which is the major problem for seniors: they end up falling and end up in an institution. If we can prevent falls by strengthening the body, strengthening the bones and muscles, you don’t have to fail as you get older.”

And Elo has the background information to prove it.

“Everything I do is based on solid research, especially from Tufts University, who are a leader in that field. My work is all research based. This is about my fourth career and it’s very exciting.”

Inactivity in seniors is a real problem, Elo said.“Your bone density starts to go. You’re going to lose that. We are all on the road to osteoporosis unless we do something about it. That’s where you have build bone by doing exercise.