Strength Training Exercises for Seniors

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The importance of exercise for seniors cannot be stressed enough. Seniors who add exercise to their daily routines will become more independent and energetic, their moods will be improved and even symptoms of pain and illness will be better managed.

Cardio exercise like walking or swimming help get your heart rate up and will increase your endurance. However, strength training for seniors can help alleviate chronic pain and reduce the signs and symptoms of many diseases or conditions like:

  • Osteoporosis: Strength training for older adults helps increase bone density and can reduce the risk of fractures, especially in women aged 50-70 years old.
  • Arthritis: Clinical studies have shown that strength training can decrease arthritis pain by up to 43 percent – some found the effects of strength training as effective, if not more effective, than arthritis medications.
  • Obesity: Individuals with a higher muscle mass will have a higher metabolic rate as well. Since strength training increases metabolic rate, it’s immensely helpful for seniors to meet their weight-loss goals.
  • Balance: As we age, we can begin to encounter trouble with stability and balance. Strength training for seniors helps increase range of motion and flexibility, which leads to less debilitating falls.
  • Diabetes: A recent study showed that after 16 weeks of strength training, both men and women showed improvements in glucose levels that were comparable to the effects of medication. Plus, participants were stronger and lost a considerable amount of body fat.

Strength Training for Seniors – Exercise Tips

A small change in your muscle mass can make a noticeable difference in your strength, as well as improve your ability to do things like climb stairs or get in and out of a car. Strength training exercises will involve equipment like hand weights, resistance bands, or adjustable commercial cable machines you find at any fitness center.

Before you start any exercise regimen, make sure you have the green light from your doctor. When you first begin a strength training routine, start off slowly and make sure you find the right intensity level for your needs. It’s normal to feel slightly sore or fatigued for a few days after a workout, but the range in which you move your arms and legs should never hurt.

Start your strength training workout off with a good warm up that includes some stretching. As you work out, complete 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions while maintaining optimal form. Make sure your movements are controlled and steady. Wait about a minute between sets to give your muscles a brief rest.  When you’ve completed your workout routine, don’t forget to “cool down” by stretching your muscles again.

It’s important to work different muscle groups each day; for example, never work your arms two days in a row. You should wait 48 hours in between workouts to specific muscle groups. Instead, work your arms day one, and the next day work your legs or back muscles. Start off with light weights and gradually build up the weights. If you start off with too much weight, you can risk injuring yourself. However, it’s also important to remember to continue to challenge yourself to get the best benefits from strength training exercises.

 

How to Boost Senior Mobility

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bigstock Senior Couple Walking In Park 13909586 300x200 - How to Boost Senior MobilityMost seniors understand the value of staying physically active, but some may start to face mobility issues as they continue down the path of aging. The less mobile we become, the more at risk we are for illness and injuries requiring hospitalization, or injuries leading to disability.

You know that old saying: “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it”? This rings especially true when it comes to mobility for seniors. The less active we are, the more difficult it becomes to complete even some of the simplest of daily tasks. Improving your range of motion with regular exercise will help improve your health and overall quality of life.

How Active Seniors Can Improve Mobility

When seniors stay active, they’ll find increased strength, coordination and balance, all of which are vital in preventing falls. In addition to fall prevention, active seniors experience a wide range of other benefits, such as healthy weight and more energy.

If you’ve already begun experiencing a decrease or limitations in your mobility, the good news is it’s never too late to increase your range of motion! Start getting the blood flowing immediately; it’s been said that exercise is the “ultimate anti-aging medicine”.

Here are a few easy tips to help improve your mobility:

  • Add activity slowly at first. After you’ve consulted with your physician and discussed any limitations you may have, start by being active for at least ten minutes every day. This can mean lifting some light weights or doing some exercises right from your chair, or even just taking a walk around the block. You can add on more activity as you regain more mobility, until you’re able to do a solid 30 minutes of exercise each day.
  • Make healthy food choices. Try eliminating some of the unhealthy foods from your diet, like rich desserts that are high in sugar. Instead, substitute some fruit or high protein snacks when you get a craving. When you eat better, you feel better, which will lead to feeling more active and alert.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Like a healthy diet, a good night’s sleep is vital for seniors to feel refreshed and awake. Without restful sleep, seniors can become more prone to accidents and falls because they can become too tired to stay attentive to their surroundings.
  • Find creative ways to get moving. It’s easy to add some simple mobility exercises into your daily routine! For instance, while you’re sitting on the couch watching television, keep hand weights nearby. Every time there’s a commercial break, do a few exercises. Or, walk around the house when you’re talking on the phone. Ask a neighbor to join you on a daily walk. There are plenty of ways to increase your mobility in ways that don’t necessarily feel like a workout.
  • Keep at it! Once you’ve added more mobility exercises, don’t give up! Even on the days you feel too fatigued, try to complete at least 10 minutes of physical activity. Keep in mind that doing something is better than doing nothing!

 

Swimming for Seniors

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bigstock Old man swimming in water of h 87330458 300x200 - Swimming for SeniorsYou already know that exercise offers numerous benefits to seniors, including improving your heart health, better flexibility and stronger muscles. Plus, exercise can help lower the risk of injury and enhance our mood and mental acuity.

An exercise that is especially beneficial to seniors is swimming. Water exercises allow the elderly a way to get in better shape without putting added stress or strain on the body.

Health Benefits of Swimming for Seniors

Swimming is an ideal workout for the elderly, mainly because it presents little risk of injury and is low impact. Water exercises work out all the muscle groups in the body, presenting a complete workout for seniors. Here are just a few of the health benefits swimming offers to older adults:

  • Improves heart health. Swimming makes your heart stronger, larger and improves your cardiovascular health and endurance. It will also lower your blood pressure, improve your circulation and help reduce the risk of heart and lung disease.
  • Gentle on the joints. Because swimming is not weight-bearing, it’s easy on the joints for those who suffer from joint pain and discomfort. It’s a full-body workout that keeps the pressure off your hips, knees and spine.
  • Reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Swimming can improve bone mineral density (BMD), which will help fight osteoporosis. This is very important especially for women; a third of women over the age of 50 and a fifth of men experience a bone fracture due to osteoporosis.
  • Increases flexibility. While stretching before and after exercising is a sure way to regain flexibility, the act of swimming itself can also help increase your flexibility in your hips, legs, arm and neck. It can also help improve your posture and alleviate back pain.
  • Improve muscle strength and tone. Every time you move in the water, you’re putting every muscle group to work. Swimming is a great form of resistance training and can help improve your muscle strength- and you’ll also see long, lean muscle tone forming the more you do it!
  • Boosts mental health. Swimming is a great way to reduce your stress levels, boost your mood, and increase your brain function. Plus, because swimming can be a social activity, you’ll avoid the feelings of social isolation and loneliness that can lead to depression in seniors.

Types of Water Exercises

There are four basic types of water exercises those of all ages can enjoy. Water aerobics is offered at many local gyms and fitness centers and are usually tailored to seniors. These usually entail water walking, dancing and other aerobic exercises that resemble classes on land.

Basic swimming is also one of the most beneficial forms of physical activity for seniors. If you’re a little rusty on your technique, sign up for a class and in no time at all you’ll be able to work your way up to swimming for thirty minutes at a stretch.

There are also water resistance exercises, like doing arm curls, leg swings and calf raises, all while in the pool. Instead of standard strength training equipment like weights, the water will act as resistance.

Finally, water relaxation exercises can also assist with lowering heart rate, blood pressure and stress. Aqua yoga and Pilates are common water relaxation methods used in senior swimming classes.

Improve your quality of life by hitting your local pool! As with any new exercise routine, make sure you consult your doctor before you start.

 

The Best Leg Exercises for the Elderly

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bigstock Elderly man warming up for run 91227203 300x200 - The Best Leg Exercises for the ElderlyIt’s vital that seniors stay active as they age. Exercise can improve mobility, improve your mood and brain health, and most importantly, help decrease your risk of becoming injured from a fall. There are many safe exercises seniors can and should take part in daily, and leg strengthening exercises are particularly beneficial.

Leg exercises for the elderly can help preserve independence and mobility. You use your legs for most daily activities, from getting out of bed in the morning to walking up and down your driveway to get the mail. Leg strengthening exercises help keep your legs flexible and strong, and can also help increase the strength in your lower back to reduce pain. You’ll also find you have more lean muscle mass, less fat and can reduce your risk for osteoporosis by engaging in weekly strengthening exercises.

Types of Leg Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

Before you start with your leg strengthening exercises, talk to your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to move forward with a program. Many leg exercises don’t require any equipment at all, so they can be done right in your own home. As you progress and get stronger, however, utilizing equipment can add more resistance and help strengthen your muscles even further.

Here are just a few of the best leg exercises for the elderly:

  • Ankle circles: While sitting or standing, lift one leg off the floor and rotate the ankle in a circular motion five times, then repeat rotating in the opposite direction. Do a few sets of this exercise with both ankles to improve ankle flexibility. It’s also a great way to get your lower legs warmed up for more exercises.
  • Step up: Use a 6-inch-high step or box and step up slowly with your right leg. Count to three as you hold and balance, then lower yourself down carefully. Repeat with the left leg, holding on to something for support if necessary. This exercise will help train your balance and coordination.
  • Calf raises: Place a phone book or something of similar thickness on the floor to stand on. Rise onto your toes, holding your heels off the ground for five seconds. Repeat this five times, using the back of a chair for support, and then reposition your feet so your heels are hanging off the phone book. Allow your heels to drop to the floor to feel a good stretch in your calf muscles. This exercise will build up your muscles to give you more stepping power and help carry you up hills or uneven terrain.
  • Leg curl: Stand behind a chair, holding onto the back for support. Place your weight on one leg, then lift the opposite knee, bending it as far as you can, and hold for three seconds. Slowly lower and switch sides. This exercise helps strengthen the hamstring muscles and improve your balance and posture.
  • Squats: You can start off by sitting in a chair and pushing yourself to a standing position, then lowering yourself down slowly. As you get stronger, stand in front of the chair, lowering yourself until you are almost seated, and then stand back up, repeating the movement five to ten times. Squats work your thighs and buttocks and help improve your range of motion.

Choose at least two of the above exercises to add to your physical fitness routine throughout the week, performing them at least twice a week for best results. Don’t get discouraged if it seems to be taking a long time for your leg muscles to strengthen; it usually takes around 4-6 weeks for your body to get used to these new exercises and to see results.

 

The Best Ways to Build Strong Bones

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bigstock Senior Older People Lifting We 6490134 300x240 - The Best Ways to Build Strong BonesDid you know that by the time we are 20 years old, we’ve built up around 90% of all the bone we’ll ever have? Our bones continue to build until around age 25 or 30, which is when we’ve reached what is known as “peak bone mass”. After age 30, the rate at which our bones grow slows down, while the rate of bone loss begins to pick up.

Once bone loss has occurred, it’s not possible to get it back. However, there are certain steps you can take to ensure you’re reducing the amount of bone mass you lose, which puts you at greater risk for osteoporosis.

How to Build Strong Bones in the Elderly

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 10 million Americans currently have osteoporosis, and another 34 million are estimated to have low bone density which can lead to osteoporosis in the future. Leading a healthy lifestyle through proper diet and daily exercise is key to reducing your risk for osteoporosis. Prevention is entirely possible when it comes to osteoporosis!

Building Strong Bones through Proper Nutrition

Our bodies need three key elements to build stronger bones: calcium, vitamin D and protein. The collagen in our bones is bound together by calcium and other trace minerals, and vitamin D helps our bodies better absorb calcium. Most adults should get between 600 and 800 international units of vitamin D every day and between 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily.

Adding calcium-rich foods to our diet is actually fairly easy. Calcium can be found in plenty of dairy products, like milk, cheese and yogurt. You can also find calcium in foods like oatmeal and cereals, dark leafy greens like broccoli and certain nuts, just to name a few. If you still aren’t getting enough calcium through your food choices, you can take a calcium citrate supplement.

Vitamin D can be trickier to get naturally, especially for those of us living in the more northern states. This is because our bodies synthesize vitamin D in response to sunlight. Vitamin D supplements of 400 IU can help with calcium absorption when you’re not able to get around 15 minutes of sunlight every day.

Lastly, adding protein-rich foods can also help build strong bones. Look for lean protein choices in fish, beans, cheese and lean meats.

Exercise for Osteoporosis Prevention

Adding in daily exercise is also key to building stronger bones and preventing osteoporosis.  Two types of exercise for osteoporosis prevention in particular are weight-bearing exercises and muscle-strengthening exercises.

Studies show that weight-bearing exercises can build about 1-3% of bone. While this doesn’t sound like much, research shows that women who walk four hours per week can reduce their risk of hip fracture by as much as 40%! Walking, jogging, dancing, hiking, tennis, stair climbing, and jumping rope are all examples of high-impact weight-bearing exercises. If you are more at risk for breaking a bone, low-impact weight-bearing exercises like using elliptical machines or walking on a treadmill are safer activities.

As far as muscle-strengthening exercises, you can lift weights or use weight machines, do yoga or Pilates, or do functional movements like standing and rising up on your toes. Whatever exercise you choose to participate in, just make sure you are continuing to challenge yourself by adding more time and intensity to your workouts as you build stamina.

Just being physically active in general can have numerous benefits for your bones and your overall health.

 

Chair Exercises for Seniors

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bigstock Trainer Assisting Senior Coupl 72106843 300x221 - Chair Exercises for SeniorsIf you have limited mobility, you might think you’re simply not able to get involved in any sort of physical activity. Maybe you’re worried about injuring yourself or focusing too much on what you’re not able to do. However, studies have shown that the benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks of becoming sedentary. For seniors in particular, exercise can help lessen pain, increase energy levels, improve balance, reduce the risk of falls, and even boost your mood!

Seated Exercises for Seniors of all Abilities

The good news is that exercise comes in many varieties, and by simply adopting a more creative approach, you, too can experience all the benefits of exercise. There are many different forms of senior chair exercises available, allowing the elderly to build and tone muscle, lubricate the joints and increase blood circulation. Seated exercises prevent seniors from the danger of falling down and limit the amount of energy they expend.

Experts recommend getting your heart rate up for 30 minutes every day, as well as including strength training at least twice per week. If you’re just beginning a new routine, start off slowly and increase your activity level; set manageable goals and as you meet them, you’ll find the motivation to continue!

Here are some popular chair exercises for seniors of all abilities:

  • Toe taps: To help improve activities like going up and down stairs, strengthen the muscles in the lower front and rear of your legs. Sit toward the edge of the chair with your heels touching the ground and your legs straight out in front of you. Point the toes toward the ground then up towards the ceiling, repeating the movement 8-10 times.
  • Bicep curls: Strong biceps allow you to carry groceries and laundry, so strengthen the front of your upper arms by using a light weight in each hand (you can even use soup cans!), turning your palms forward and lifting the weight toward your shoulders. Complete 8-12 repetitions, stopping when your arms fatigue.
  • Tummy twists: Hold a ball or weight at your waist with your arms at a 90 degree angle and pulled into your sides. Using only the upper body and keeping your belly pulled in, twist to the left as far as you can, come back to the middle, and twist to the right. This helps improve your core strength and posture.
  • Seated row: Work your chest and upper back muscles by holding your arms out in front of you with thumbs toward the ceiling and your elbows bent. Pull both elbows back as far as possible while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Leg extension: If you have trouble getting up from the sofa, this type of chair exercise focuses on the quads, which are essential for standing and sitting. Slowly lift the right knee toward the chest and then return to the starting position, repeating with each leg 8-10 times.
  • Lateral raise: Another way to improve your posture is to incorporate lateral raises into your routine, which help tone the shoulders. Hold a light weight in each hand, keeping your back straight. Keep your arms by your sides and turn palms toward one another, relaxing the shoulders and lifting the weight out to the sides until your arms are parallel to the floor. Do this for 8-12 repetitions.

Regardless of your current physical condition or your age, you can work to overcome your mobility issues and start reaping the physical, mental and emotions rewards by utilizing the above chair exercises for seniors.

 

The Best Core Exercises for Seniors

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bigstock Group of senior people and you 85121561 300x200 - The Best Core Exercises for SeniorsYour core is made up of your abdominal muscles and back muscles, including the muscles along the spine, as well as your hips and pelvis muscles. Having a strong core is an essential part of your overall health; without a strong core, you are more at risk for injuries from falls due to poor balance and limited mobility. In fact, every movement you make is generated from your core, which means if your core is weakened, other muscles need to work harder to pick up the slack. This is a key contribution to injuries in seniors.

The Benefits of Core Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

Adding core strengthening exercises to your workout regimen is crucial for seniors. Exercise in general has been proven to slow down the aging process, and improving your core strength improves your stamina, stability, coordination, posture, and protects you from injury. Here are just a few of the main benefits of core exercises for seniors:

  • Injury prevention. For seniors, preventing an injury from occurring is so important; healing from an injury is much more difficult than avoiding one altogether.
  • Improving body strength. Studies found that core strengthening exercises can improve body strength of older adults by an average of 30%. Stronger muscles allows for an increased range of motion, too.
  • Managing and reducing pain. Many seniors suffer from lower back pain, and core exercises help stretch and strengthen these muscles, helping to reduce pain from chronic conditions.
  • Keeping you balanced and stable. Your core helps support your spine, which aids in balance and stability. You’ll have a better sense of your center of gravity, which allows for more confident movement.
  • Making daily tasks easier. When you have a weak core, even just getting up out of your favorite chair can be difficult, and walking down a snowy sidewalk can be downright treacherous. A strong core provides you better reaction time and aids in ordinary activities, like climbing stairs.

Best Core Exercises to Add to Your Workout

The best part about core exercises is that you don’t even need to visit a fancy gym to complete them daily! You simply need a mat, carpeted floor or chair. No expensive equipment is required to strengthen your core.

Here are just a few of some of the best core strengthening exercises for seniors that can be completed from the comfort of your home:

  • Seated side bends. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, keeping one hand behind your head and the other reaching towards the floor. Lean over as though you’re going to touch the floor, tightening the oblique muscles running along the side of your body in the process. Return to your initial position and repeat on the opposite side.
  • The Bridge. Lie flat on your back, keeping your knees bent and feet flat against the ground. Tighten your core, raising your hips until a straight line is formed between your knees and chest- do not arch your back. Hold for three breaths, then lower back down.
  • The Superman. This movement strengthens your lower back and improves stability. Lie face down on the floor with arms outstretched in front of you. Raise your head, right arm and left leg in tandem about two inches, then lower and repeat on the opposite side.
  • Leg lifts. Work your lower abdominal muscles by lying flat on the floor with legs and feet relaxed. Contract your abs while raising one leg about 5 inches off the floor, holding for 3 counts. Repeat with the other leg.

Yoga is also a great way for seniors to improve their overall core strength, and many studios will offer classes designed specifically for older adults. Pilates is another great exercise for core strength, and many of the movements can be modified based on your ability.

 

Why Proper Posture is Imperative for Seniors

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bigstock Senior woman sitting on yoga b 55566125 300x200 - Why Proper Posture is Imperative for SeniorsHave you ever noticed that the older you get, the shorter you seem to get, too? As we enter our 50s and 60s, we actually do experience a “shrinking” phenomenon and can end up losing up to an inch of our overall height. What causes this?  And is there anything we can do about it?

Proper Posture and its Effect on Seniors

It’s true that our spines begin to change as we age. The vertebrae and discs that act as cushions between the bones of our back start to break down and thin out over time. Also, the cartilage and connective tissues in our spines can start to lose thickness and elasticity. However scary this may sound, there are actually ways we can ensure we lose as little of our height as possible and keep the bones in our spine healthy. Maintaining proper posture throughout our lives is so important to keep our backs strong and straight.

Proper posture for seniors is even more important. Taking the proper steps to make sure you’re maintaining good posture can help you:

  • Stay balanced and decrease chances for a fall. Falls are the number one cause of injury among seniors, leading often to broken bones and other injuries. When seniors are being more mindful of their posture, they have better balance and less risk of falling.
  • Prevent osteoporosis. Because your back muscles and ligaments have to work overtime when you have poor posture, over time these overworked muscles can lead to degeneration in the spine and serious conditions like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
  • Lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. Seniors often develop hypertension when their blood isn’t flowing properly throughout their bodies. This also puts them at greater risk for stroke, heart attack and conditions like obesity and diabetes.
  • Lift spirits and decrease feelings of depression. Having proper posture improves your circulation, which better oxygenates your body and leads to a positive mood and perception. Studies have even shown that seniors who stand and sit upright have more energy and are more confident in life.
  • Enhance cognitive functioning. Even though it’s not scientifically proven that proper posture can delay the onset of dementia, a properly aligned spine can aid in communication between neurotransmitters and the brain, allowing for better memory recall.
  • Improve blood flow and help with digestive issues. Sitting up straight while you eat can aid in digestion, as your organs aren’t being compressed by slouching.

How to Correct Posture through Exercise

It’s important for seniors to work on improving their posture as soon as possible. First of all, avoid being sedentary for long periods of time. Simply getting up and moving around every so often allows your muscles to stretch out and stay limber.

Secondly, invest some time in learning about some exercises that can help improve your posture. Core exercises are perfect for this as they help keep you balanced, stable, and increase your overall body strength. Look for a senior yoga or Pilates class to help develop your core strength.

Also, talk to a trainer about what types of machines at your local gym can target your back extensors, side and pelvic muscles and neck flexors. At American Senior Communities, we offer our New Energy Wellness program that focuses on improving balance and posture, and our Health Promotion Coordinator will design a customized workout regimen based on your needs.

You can also do some weight-bearing exercises at home, like walking or climbing stairs (if you’re currently stable on your feet) to help reduce any breakdown in your vertebrae.

 

The Benefits of Stretching Exercises for Seniors

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bigstock Trainer And Customers Doing St 72105898 300x200 - The Benefits of Stretching Exercises for SeniorsAs we age, staying limber and flexible becomes more and more important. Flexibility helps us increase our range of motion so we can easily complete everyday tasks like bending down to tie your shoes or reaching to get a dish from a shelf. This is where stretching exercises for seniors come into play; daily stretching can help improve your flexibility and athleticism, decrease the amount of energy you need to complete a movement, and most importantly, help prevent injury.

Adding Stretching Exercises to Your Workout

Staying physically active as you age is key to a better overall quality of life. Exercise helps keep our bones strong and our backs straighter, can help delay the onset of certain diseases like diabetes, relieves the pain you feel from arthritis, improves your mood and mental health, and is essential in fall prevention. It’s never too late to add physical activity into your daily routine!

If you’re already exercising on a regular basis, it’s important that you’re taking the time to properly stretch your muscles, too. Stretching will help loosen your joints by activating the fluids within them, which helps reduce damage caused by friction. Stretching will also help lengthen your muscles, and when a muscle is short or tight you’re much more susceptible to injury. Once you add stretching into your workout routine, you’ll notice the results quickly.

Tips for Effective Stretching

Add stretching exercises for flexibility into your workout routine by following these tips:

  • Warm up before stretching. A warm up before stretching can be done easily with some light weights or a quick walk. Your muscles need to be warmed up before you start stretching to help you avoid injury.
  • Take your time. Ease yourself slowly into the stretch. You should feel a mild pulling in your muscles, but it shouldn’t be painful. A stabbing pain is a sign that you’re stretching too far. If you’re new to stretching exercises, remember that it will take some time for those muscles to loosen up.
  • Relax and breathe. Never hold your breath while stretching. Breathe into the movement, carefully pushing yourself a bit farther with each breath.
  • Take note of your spine. Be aware of the position of your spine. Don’t let it curve too far as this can make you vulnerable to an injury. Keep your back and joints soft, never locked into position.
  • No bouncing. Don’t bounce into a stretch to try to make yourself reach farther. Use steady movements instead of jerking movements to ease into the stretch, as those quicker movements can actually cause the muscles to tighten instead of loosen!
  • Hold that stretch. Give yourself at least 30 seconds in each stretching position to allow enough time for the muscle to elongate. Breathe, repeat, and try to stretch slightly farther the next time.

If you are just getting started with a workout routine, adding stretching to your warmup and cooldown is essential to help alleviate the soreness that may follow exercising. As always, before you start any new physical activity, talk to your doctor first to learn what the best plan will be for your health needs.

 

The Importance of Healthy Joints

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bigstock Doctor Examining Female Patien 41853412 300x200 - The Importance of Healthy JointsYour joints are the connections between your bones that allow you to bend your elbows, knees, neck, hips and more. Like our bones, as we age it’s common for our joints to start to wear down and cause conditions like osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that affects over a third of adults age 60 and older. Or, overusing a particular joint throughout our lives can also result in pain and lead to restricted movement and flexibility. Sometimes, our joints can become so worn down that even the simplest of movements, like reaching for a glass on a shelf, can be nearly impossible.

You might be getting older, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be subjected to a life of painful movement and decreased mobility. It’s never too late to start making lifestyle changes that can improve your quality of life.

Strong Bones and Healthy Joints

Having strong bones goes hand in hand with having healthy joints. Your joints are just one part of your musculoskeletal system to be mindful of keeping strong; in fact, the best way to care for your joints is to keep your muscles, ligaments and bones resilient and stable.

Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight range for your body type is the most important thing you can do for your joints. Obesity is one of the major risks of developing osteoarthritis, as our joints have to work much harder when we are carrying extra weight. In fact, research has shown that with each extra pound we gain, a person puts four times more stress on their knees. This is a reason why knee surgery or total knee replacement is so common in older adults who are overweight. When you lose weight, the pressure on your joints will get reduced and can also decrease your risk for osteoarthritis.

Improving Joint Health and Bone Strength for Osteoarthritis Prevention

Start off by making some simple lifestyle changes to your daily routine to begin alleviating some of the pain you’re dealing with in your joints. These same lifestyle changes, along with a few others, can also improve bone strength and help reduce your risk for future pain and injury.

  • Exercise daily. Consistently working out on a daily basis will alleviate joint pain and aid in osteoarthritis prevention, plus it will also strengthen your bones! While exercising might at first seem difficult if you are already experiencing joint pain, over time physical activity will actually decrease your pain as inflammation in your joints is reduced.
  • Choose healthy foods and snacks. A healthy diet helps you lose weight, and some food choices can even reduce joint pain caused by osteoarthritis. Enjoy joint and heart-health benefits from foods like salmon, olive oil and green tea.
  • Take the right supplements. Your doctor can provide advice about supplements that can help alleviate joint pain, like glucosamine and chondroitin. Studies are still being conducted on these supplements, however, so make sure you talk to a physician first before adding them to your joint care routine. If you aren’t getting enough calcium or vitamin D in your diet, add these supplements in as well for strong bones.

Regardless of whether you already have osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, lifestyle changes can go a long way in improving your overall joint and bone health. Losing weight now can help you avoid knee surgery and other complications that can arise from joint degeneration.