It’s a fact of life that as we age, we lose muscle. It’s a popular misconception that muscle strength and flexibility can no longer be regained after a certain age, but this simply isn’t the case - it's just one of those elderly fitness myths. In fact, regular physical activity can help restore both strength and flexibility, which is why strength training for seniors is so essential.
But if the idea of strength training intimidates you, there’s some good news: you can actually experience the benefits of strength training without using weights!
The Importance of Strength Training for Seniors
So beyond regaining muscle, what exactly are the other benefits to strength training for seniors? According to ElderGym, strength training can help with a variety of age-related illnesses, including osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, COPD and even back problems. These kinds of exercises can even help improve your balance!
Before trying any of the strength training exercises outlined below, here are some important reminders:
- Check with your doctor first – some exercises might be better for you than others.
- Warm up and stretch for at least 10 minutes before exercising.
- Maintain good posture while exercising.
- Take deep breaths when exercising.
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising.
No Weights? No Problem!
Now we’re sure we know what you’re all thinking: “How can you do strength training without weights?” You may be worried about having to go to the gym to get this health benefits, but that’s not so! Luckily, strength training for seniors at home is possible with these exercises outlined by the National Institute on Aging:
- Hand Grips: If you have difficulty picking objects up or holding them, hold a small rubber or foam ball in one hand and slowly squeeze the ball for 3-5 seconds. Relax your hand, and then repeat for 10-15 more times with each hand.
- Wall Push-Up: This exercise is just what it sounds like and is incredibly simple! Face a wall, leaning your body forward and placing your palms against the wall, and do a push-up as you normally would on the ground. Be sure to keep your feet flat on the ground, and repeat 10-15 times.
- Back Leg Raise: Using a sturdy chair for balance, slowly lift one leg (without bending your knee or leaning forward) and hold this position for 1 second. Slowly lower your leg, and do this for 10-15 times on each leg.
- Side Leg Raise: After doing some back leg raises, slowly lift one leg out to the side while using a sturdy chair for balance. Hold this position for 1 second, and repeat 10-15 times on each leg.
- Toe Stand: While using a sturdy chair for balance, slowly stand on your tiptoes (as high as possible without losing balance). Hold this position for 1 second, and slowly lower your heels to the floor. Repeat 10-15 more times.
These exercises strengthen essential muscles, and the key is doing these strength training exercises at least two days a week for about 30 minutes. These exercises may promote bone health for seniors, but even with strong bones, you never know when a fall or another accident might occur. Protect yourself with a Medical Guardian medical alert device.