Older adults often suffer from mobility issues due to weak muscles and deteriorating bone health. Strength training exercises are beneficial to keep seniors physically active. It also eases the activities of daily living (ADLs), including eating, bathing, getting out of a bed or chair, and moving around the house for seniors. The purpose of these exercises is to provide preventive care by building and maintaining muscle tissue while using the body weight as resistance. It is especially beneficial for older women since they lose bone density faster after menopause. Strength training for seniors is not only useful to ease joint pain or muscle spasms but also helpful in curing some chronic joint and spine issues.
5 Benefits of strength training exercises for seniors
Seniors can improve their overall health through strength training exercises. Some of their most significant benefits are as follows:
1. Increases muscular strength
When done right, these exercises can increase the strength and work capacity of seniors. Strength training helps older adults perform their daily tasks ranging from getting out of bed to walking to the store to reaching the upper shelf – after strengthening their muscles. Age-related muscle and strength loss, more popularly known as sarcopenia, is a major health issue among the elderly that gradually diminishes body strength to a point where everyday tasks seem impossible. Strength training is an excellent way to prevent this from happening.
2. Improves balance
Fall-related injuries are one of the leading causes of death among US adults aged 65 or older. The key to preventing falls is improving balance.
Once a senior loses strength, they become more prone to falling. Since strength and balance are interconnected, it is especially critical to increase the strength of the legs and core muscles to improve balance. Strength training empowers seniors with strong core muscles to help them re-establish balance when it is compromised.
3. Strengthens bones
With age, seniors undergo hormonal changes and lead a less active lifestyle. As a result, their bone health deteriorates over time and they become more prone to loss of bone mass, known as osteoporosis.
Strength training efficiently improves bone strength and density to help seniors stay independent while performing their daily tasks. High-impact exercises like jogging and running can be difficult at an older age as these types of physical activities are extremely tough on the joints. Thus, it is wise to protect the bones through strength training exercises. If your senior family member is suffering from joint issues, plan their strength training routine with the help of a medical professional or a fitness trainer.
4. Supports metabolism
Loss of muscle mass is natural with age and makes seniors burn calories at a lower rate. Therefore, metabolism slows down as people age. Strength training can improve metabolism by increasing the heart rate and naturally burning some calories. Furthermore, strength training stimulates the release of growth hormones and steroid hormones, which allow the tissues to recover and repair themselves. As a result, it aids the muscles in storing energy and encourages fat cells to release it.
5. Helps maintain a proper posture
One of the major challenges seniors deal with is weak muscles that cannot support the weight of their bodies in the right way. This problem can further lead to improper posture and result in dysfunctional joints.
Strength training exercises help build up the bones, muscles, and all other supporting tissues of the body, including the lower back, which eventually improves posture. It puts the spine into an ideal alignment and relieves back pain.
Read More: A Healthy Lifestyle Plan for Seniors
Strength Training Exercises for Seniors
Strength training for older adults differs as some exercises include squats and push-ups that can lead to further injury. While preparing a strength training exercise regime for seniors, it is crucial to keep safety and ease of movement in mind. Start with bodyweight exercises as they do not strain the muscles too much. Once they feel comfortable, start incorporating lightweight dumbbells, and resistance bands.
Here are some strength training exercises suitable for seniors:
Lunges are extremely beneficial when it comes to strengthening the quads, glutes, and hips. It helps them improve their balance so that they can walk without any assistance.
- To start with, keep the feet shoulder-width apart and the hands on the hips.
- Step forward with the right foot flat on the floor and keep the torso straight while doing it. Step as far as it feels comfortable and does not hurt.
- Hold the position for a few seconds and return the right foot to the starting position.
- Now it is time to switch to the left foot.
Try repeating lunges at least 10 times for the most effective results. Seniors can hold onto a chair or railing for balance to make it easier. If they feel comfortable lifting weights, then add a 2 to 5-pound weight in each hand for extra resistance.
This is an easier alternative to regular push-ups. It is a more convenient option for seniors as they don’t have to put themselves through the struggle of getting on the floor and then getting back up afterward. Wall push-ups are beneficial for strengthening the upper body, particularly the arms and chest.
- Stand at about 2 feet or closer to a sturdy wall.
- Now place the hands against the wall in front of the shoulders and keep the spine straight.
- Now, bend the elbows and keep them close to the sides so that they are not sticking out.
- Now, move the body towards the wall and then push back to the starting position.
Repeat this exercise 10 times or more if the senior feels comfortable.
Being unable to climb stairs affects independence and quality of life. This is one of the most effective leg-strengthening as well as balance exercises for seniors that build the glutes and quadriceps and helps them to climb stairs and step over things.
- To begin with, stand up straight at the bottom of the stairs and hold onto the railing for support.
- Now slowly step up with the right foot and then follow with the left.
- Slowly step back down with the right foot, and with the left as well.
Repeat this exercise 10 times and add a 2-to-5-pound ankle weight to each leg if their health permits.
Resistance band exercises
Resistance band exercises are suitable for seniors as they use their body’s own strength to perform the exercise. Besides, bands are inexpensive and easy to carry.
- While sitting down, wrap a resistance band around the shoulders and hold an end in each hand.
- Keep the hands at chest level and begin pushing the hands away from the body until the arms are straight.
- Hold the position for a few seconds and then release slowly.
- Pull the arms back into their original position and repeat.
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There is a popular misconception that people aged 65 or older are too old to practice these types of exercises. With proper guidance and safety measures, seniors are not only able to perform these exercises with ease, but they are also able to improve their overall health. Always double-check with their doctor and trainer to prevent or deal with any pain or injuries. Contact EliteCare Health Centers and book an appointment to check whether your fitness routine aligns with your medical condition.
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