Age Well

Strength Training Pays Dividends

Illustration of a superwoman

Strength training can help maintain and even improve overall health as we age. Benefits, particularly for older adults, include weight loss, mobility improvement, and muscle mass retention, which can improve stability and help delay or even avoid surgery or disability.

A trainer works with a woman in the wellness center exercise room

THE WELLNESS CENTER is an 18,000-square-foot, fully equipped fitness facility with an indoor pool and indoor track on the campus of Emory Decatur Hospital.

Photo Courtesy of Emory Healthcare

Thanks to the generosity of community members, patients, staff, and providers, the Wellness Center at Emory Decatur Hospital has made a significant investment of more than $73,000 in new strength equipment, which is already paying dividends for members and fitness coaches.

“Members love the new equipment and appreciate the update,” says Lisa Gray, Wellness Center group fitness coordinator and American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer.

The Wellness Center was the first medical fitness center in Georgia to be certified by the Medical Fitness Association in 2017. Georgia Barkers, a retired nurse whose career included service in the US Army Nurse Corps, has been a member of the Wellness Center for more than a decade. “I joined the Wellness Center in 2009 after I had my first hip surgery,” Barkers says. “Initially, I tried water aerobics, then I eventually wanted something more strenuous.”

Gray began incorporating the new strength training machines into Barkers’ twice-weekly one-hour workouts (photo below). Barkers credits the added challenge from the strength equipment with helping her achieve one of her primary fitness goals. “I’ve been trying to strengthen my right knee and hold off on replacement surgery,” she says.

The two bonded as Barkers began achieving her health goals. They learned they shared similar experiences as military veterans. “I love working out with Lisa because she provides encouragement,” says Barkers. “We set goals in our individualized training sessions.”

Because lean muscle mass naturally diminishes with age, body fat percentage will increase over time if nothing is done to replace muscle. You can do strength training at home or at a gym by: lifting free weights; using your own body weight by doing squats, lunges, situps and pullups; using fitness machines; using resistance tubing or cable suspension.

Be sure to warm up for five to 10 minutes first, and use weights that tire your muscles after 12-15 repetitions. To give your muscles time to heal, rotate muscle groups. Aim for strength training for all major muscle groups at least two times a week.

For more information go to for information about a free seven-day pass.

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