A stronger, healthier body. It’s a goal for many people, but it’s particularly important for seniors. While many people recommend low-impact exercises for seniors like walking, swimming, and strength training for seniors is just as important.
Why Strength Training?
Strength training means stronger muscles and stronger muscles mean avoiding injury, preventing falls, and helping ease the pain of problematic conditions like arthritis. As you age, you begin to gradually lose the muscle mass in your body. That can create difficulty walking for longer distances or even carrying groceries inside. Strength training helps to build both bone and muscle, which can preserve the body’s strength and energy levels.
Five Exercises That Will Help
Wondering where to even begin with strength training? It starts with some equipment. While you certainly don’t need a gym membership to help build your strength, however, you might want to invest in a bit of equipment. Starting with a few small dumbbells is a good idea.
Any exercise for seniors begins with a conversation with your doctor. If you have ongoing medical conditions or other health impairments, he or she will help guide you in the right direction. It’s also essential that once you get started, you take plenty of time with the movements and only increase the weight when you begin to feel comfortable with the exercises themselves.
Each time you get ready for a strength training session, start with a brief warm-up like walking in place. Perform each exercise for one set, then rest for thirty seconds. Focus more on form than on speed. If you’re ready to move up a level, add a set each week until you’re doing at least three sets of each exercise. You’ll only want to strength train about two days each week so you get some rest between your workouts.
Exercise #1 – Bicep Curls
This is a fairly classic exercise when you think of strength training and for good reason. It helps to build your biceps and you use those each day when you’re carrying groceries inside the house, opening the door, or just picking things up around the house.
To get started, stand with your feet apart and hold your dumbbells in each hand. You may want to start with something small like three to five pounds. You can also start with a kettlebell weight. With your palms outward pull the weight toward your shoulder in a curling motion. Try not to move your elbows too much as you curl up. Lower it back down, but keep your elbow bent slightly. The key here is to not swing the weight. Repeat at least twelve times and you’ve completed one set.
Exercise #2 – Tricep Extension
You’ll need dumbells for this as well. Your triceps are some of the hardest working muscles in your body. Every time you do a pushing movement, you’re using them. If you’re improving your biceps, you’ll certainly want to balance things out by improving your triceps.
Begin this exercise by holding a weight in both of your hands. Again, start small with something like three to five pounds. Hold the weights directly over your head with your arms straight up in the air. Slowly bend your elbows and take the weight behind your head until your elbows are bent like a square. Pull the weight back up until your arms are straight again. You’ll want to repeat this exercise twelve times to complete a set.
Exercise #3 – Chair Squats
This exercise uses very little equipment, but it strengthens the key muscles you use daily. As you get up and down from your chair at home or in and out of your car, you’re using the muscles you use to do a squat.
With good form, you’re going to be building strength in your hips and thighs with this one. You need a chair to get started. Stand in front of the chair, and make sure your feet are about as far apart as your shoulders are. Bend your knees and push your hips back. For balance, you’ll want to hold your arms straight out in front of you. Sit all the way down. The moment you make contact with the chair, stand back up. Don’t rock back or use your momentum to stand up, though. Instead, push the weight through your heels to stand up. Do this twelve times to complete one set.
Exercise #4 – Incline Push-Ups
Push-ups of any kind are almost the perfect exercise. You’re working lots of different muscles like those in your chest, your shoulders, and your back. If you’re just beginning to build your upper body strength, you’ll want to use a high incline, like your kitchen counter.
Face the counter, then put both hands on the edge of it. You want them just a bit wider than shoulder-width. Extend your feet behind you so you make an incline with the floor. Keep your back as straight as possible, then bend your elbows and lower your shoulders down to your hands. Pause, then push yourself back up. You’ll want to do this twelve times to complete a set. As you get stronger, reduce the incline. Instead of a countertop, use a chair.
Exercise #5 – Deadbugs
This exercise helps to build the muscles in your core and that helps to build strength throughout your body to give you the balance you need. You won’t need any equipment at all for this one.
Just lie on your back. Put your arms and legs in the air and bend your knees. Make sure your back stays on the floor and lower one leg until your heel touches the floor. At the same time, lower the opposite arm toward the floor just above your head. Lift back up then repeat on the other side. Do this twelve times per side and you’ve completed one set.
Strength training is a great way to rebuild your muscle mass so that you’re stronger every single day. Exercise for seniors should also include some cardio, for solid overall health!