Active Senior Years - Strength Training for Independence
By Guest Blogger Mia Morales
Strength training is essential for senior citizens to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A strong body is one that encourages independent lifestyles through improved mobility and stability. Building up and maintaining consistent body strength keeps bones healthy, prevents falls, and even reduces the pain of arthritis. Before beginning an exercise regimen at any age, it is helpful to consult the family doctor or an expert in fitness.
Benefits of Strength Training in Senior Years
Strength training at any age is important for staying fit, but it is especially vital for those in their senior years who want to remain independent and free of chronic conditions. Senior strength training can reduce symptoms related to such chronic diseases as arthritis, obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease, and diabetes. Utilizing a full range of motion trains the muscles in controlling the body while it is moving. Start slow and let results snowball as you progress. Perform movements that do not hurt and are even fun to act out. Stepping, squatting, jogging, hopping, walking, lunging, and skipping are all ways to move more.
In North America, slips and falls are among the leading reasons for injury and death among senior citizens. Strength exercises improve balance and boost confidence while moving about. By taking the time to exercise and to do some strength training, you are helping your body be strong in the face of the worst possible scenario. Beyond avoiding fatal falls, physical fitness assists in living a longer and healthier life.
Independence is important for anyone, but especially older adults who do not want to have to change their ways of life. Those that exercise regularly do not rely as much on others. With regular strength training, you can maintain the ability to walk about, bathe without assistance, cook for themselves, dress without aid, and independently use the restroom.
Beginning a Strength Training Regimen
Once you turn 50 years old, your body loses muscle strength at a rate of 1 to 2 percent per year. After 60, this goes up to 3 percent. Strength training assists in regaining the lost muscle. Exercise also slows the aging of cells. It goes beyond making seniors feel young and actually disengages the aging process of the chromosomes. Thus, you should strength train twice a week at minimum.
Lifting weights can seem daunting to someone who is just getting started. Weight lifting is just one way to increase strength, however. Instead, seniors should begin with bodyweight exercises. People who rush to lifting weights can sacrifice form and ignore biomechanics. Start with squats, lunges, dips, shoulder presses, step-ups, push-ups of some variety, and bicycle crunches. The push-ups can be on your knees or toes or against a wall or counter top.
From that point, you can begin to add weight with resistance bands or dumbbells. Also, strength work should be performed on nonconsecutive days. Cardio or walking should take up some time on the days in between to assist with recovery. This basic routine of fitness is important as it keeps the joints moving smoothly and helps maintain proper gut flora to help digestive machinery do regular work.
At-Home Exercises for Senior Strength Training
There are two easy exercises that active seniors should focus on. The first is the squat. Squats are valuable because they maintain a strong trunk and legs. They will provide confidence and power to stand up from a chair or a couch. Aging people lose strength in the butt and legs, causing difficulties in daily living. Squats fight against this loss.
The second main exercise is the push-up. Particularly for those at risk of falling, the motion of pushing upward is vital. If you strengthen your upper body and arms, you maintain control of your motions even on the floor. Combining squats and push-ups offers a well-rounded beginning to strength training for seniors.
To have a long, healthy, and independent life, strength training is essential. It boosts the immune system and the mood, both of which can suffer as aging proceeds. Strength training for seniors prevents accidents and makes those that occur less dangerous. Follow these guidelines to get started as an active, more healthy you.
Mia is a devout fitness instructor, mother, and writer. She loves sharing her knowledge through blogging, teaching, and writing.