COLUMBUS - “Adults start to lose muscle mass, even as early as our 30s. And in our 50s it really starts to accelerate,” said K-State Research and Extension family and consumer science specialist Sharolyn Jackson.

But older adults are sometimes reluctant to start strengthening activities to counter the effects of aging on their bodies. The idea of going to a gym or not knowing the proper exercises to do at home can keep people from starting.

Participants in Stay Strong, Stay Healthy meet for one-hour sessions, twice a week for eight weeks. Activities include warm-up exercises, strengthening exercises with and without weights, and cool-down stretches. Class members are encouraged to do the exercises on their own once more per week. Potential benefits of strength training include a decrease in arthritis pain, weight maintenance, and a reduction in the risk of diabetes, heart disease and depression. Stress management and improvement in sleep quality and overall physical vitality are other potential benefits.

The program will be offered in Cherokee County starting on May 30, in Columbus. The class will be $20, and will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays for eight weeks. Please call the Cherokee County K-State Research and Extension Office at 620-429-3849 before May 23 for more information and to get registered.

Benefits of strength training for older adults

Research has shown the health benefits of strength training, including:

• Muscle mass and strength – Muscle strength and mass decrease during the aging process. Several studies have shown increased muscle mass and strength in older adults after performing resistance exercise.

• Restoration of balance and flexibility and a reduction in falls - A study in New Zealand showed a 40 percent reduction in falls with simple strength training in women 80 years and older.

• Arthritis relief – A Tufts University study showed that strength training decreased arthritis pain by 40 percent. The effectiveness of strength training to ease the pain of osteoarthritis was a potent as medications for many participants. Similar effects of strength training in patients with rheumatoid arthritis have also been demonstrated.

• Sleep improvement – Recent research showed improvements in sleep among older adults who participated in strength training.

• Cardiovascular health – Tufts University found that cardiac patients gained strength, flexibility and aerobic capacity when they did strength training three times a week as part of their rehabilitation program. This and other studies prompted the American Heart Association to recommend strength training as a way to reduce the risk of heart disease and as a therapy for patients in cardiac rehabilitation programs.

• Improved glucose control – Diabetes is common in American adults. A recent study of Hispanic/Latino men and women conducted by Tufts University showed that 16 weeks of strength training produced dramatic improvements in glucose control. Seventy percent reduced their medication.

Kansas State University is committed to making its services, activities and programs accessible to all participants. If you have special requirements due to a physical, vision, or hearing disability, contact Christina Holmes, Cherokee County Extension, 124 W Country Rd, Columbus, KS 66725, phone 620-429-3849 or email ChristinaHolmes@ksu.edu.