As we age, it’s important to add strength training to our life to combat the effects of sarcopenia, the gradual decline of mass muscle that hits us all in our 40s, 50s, and beyond. The benefits are innumerable—stronger muscles, denser bones, better circulation, better endurance, protection against disease, and improved energy level. Medical research says resistance training can also improve your quality of life and your sense of coherence.
First, some definitions. Quality of Life (QoL) is measured by the World Health Organization by a person’s “physical health, psychological state, personal beliefs, social relationships, and their relationship to salient features of their environment.” While QoL can have physical and psychological components, sense of coherence is complex and more psychological in nature. Do you feel you have a good understanding of your life and can generally predict what is going to happen next? Do you have a sense that you can handle your current situation, with or without support? Most importantly, do you find things interesting, pleasurable, or satisfying?
The older we get, the more challenging a sense of coherence can be to achieve. Generally speaking, we are more financially vulnerable. We spend more time alone. We are less physically active, which effects our moods. According to the research from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, healthy adults aged 65 to 75 who had not done resistance training previously reported improved quality of life after just three months and a drastic improvement in their sense of coherence after nine months. These findings support previous studies that showed the positive effects of resistance training on the psychological well-being of older adults.
While there is a need for further research on how long the effects of the exercise last, these findings suggest that prescribing resistance training could be a step toward helping older adults better manage both their physical health and their emotional health as they age.