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.