Don't be afraid! You can lift big no matter your age

Jun 29 2020

Isobel Stoodley has a passion for helping people be stronger for longer. While her research is aimed at people 65+ she feels that terms such as elderly are outdated, and don’t really apply to the people she sees in her daily work.

Isobel is an HMRI affiliated researcher and PhD candidate in the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy who is working with Professor Lisa Wood to research the STRONG program. It’s all about helping people be stronger for longer.

Now, many people, particularly older people are fearful or worried about strength training. They don’t see weights for them, and they most certainly don’t want to go to a gym and be told by a personal trainer to do burpees! But strength training has a massive array of benefits – particularly as we age. It improves strength and muscle tone (obviously) but also improves balance and reduces the risks of falls – and means that simple activities such as reaching for an item on a high shelf continue to be possible.

This program has the ultimate aim of helping people to live better, for longer, and ultimately in their own home. Isobel has a lovely story about an 86-year-old woman who signed up for the program because her husband was 92-years-old, and she didn’t know how she’d open a jar when he was gone. At the end of the 16 week program Isobel asked, “So, can you open a jar now?” and was told, “Oh, I could do that weeks ago, I’d forgotten all about it”

Once the program’s finished, the benefits continue – and that’s what Isobel’s next study will be exploring, when they revisit some of the people who’ve participated in the program – and see if they’re still continuing with their strength training – and are seeing results after the trial finished up.

The programs as much about building confidence as it is about strength. The benefits are numerous – from being able to walk up and down stairs without grasping a rail, to being able to bend down to play with, and pick up their grandchildren.

Listen to her chat with Kia Handley on ABC Newcastle Tuesday 29 June 2020