No matter your age, or your ability, movement is one of the biggest keys to better health. As most of us are aware, we lose muscle mass as we age. Running up a flight of stairs is not as easy as it once was. If we want to keep our body strength at its peak performance, we must put for extra effort to combat this natural decline. These 5 best strength training exercises for seniors may help.
It does not take superhuman strength to do this. We see in the story of the Blue Zones, the people who lived in these areas just went about their normal lives, but the secret was they kept active doing the things they loved to do and were used to doing.
Many of us do not walk great distances and lift great weights in our everyday lives, so adding these 5 best strength training exercises will go a long way in helping us keep our bodies fit.
The Benefit of Strength Training
Strength training is beneficial for everyone, but it is especially of interest to seniors, because of the normal loss of muscle mass as the years pass. Everyday life does not require us to run a marathon, but it does require us to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Studies show that men and women over 65 who performed strength exercises just two times a week for six months or longer, had significantly improved mobility, posture and bone density. They had fewer falls and maintained existing muscle mass.
As we strengthen our muscles, we are also putting resistance on our bones, which helps rebuild bone density as well, it is always great to experience a win-win situation! Strong bones and muscles are what we do need in life.
Before you start any exercise program, you should always be certain to speak with your doctor or a physiotherapist to see if it is safe for you and that you are using the proper technique. Start with a warm-up exercise before you begin your exercises.
1 – Overhead Arm Raise
The overhead arm raise exercise will strengthen your shoulders and arms. It will make it easier to swim, lift and carry things.
Instructions: This exercise can be done sitting or standing. With a water bottle or soup can in each hand, or even just your body weight, draw your abs in tight. With your elbows bent and your palms facing forward, raise your hands from shoulder height to above your head. Breathe out as you raise your hands up and breathe in as you lower your hands. Do 10 or 15 of these.
2 – Wall Push-ups
This exercise strengthens your arms, shoulders and chest. It is a modified floor push-up. The benefit of a wall push-up is that you do not have to get down on the floor.
Instructions: Facing the wall, with feet shoulder width apart, a little more than arms’ distance away from the wall. Place your hands about shoulder’s distance apart on the wall.
Bend your elbows as you lean toward the wall. Count to five before slowly returning to the original straight-armed position. Repeat these Wall push-ups 10 or 15 times.
3 – The Glute Bridge
The Glute Bridge is an exercise which will improve the strength in your abdominal region, lower back and glutes. The Glute Bridge safely and effectively works the posterior muscles, from the calves, glutes, hamstrings and lower back. It is great for good posture and ease of movement in a pain free way.
Instructions: From a position lying flat on the floor, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor with your hands by your side, and the palms lying gently on the floor.
Squeeze your glutes and gently raise your hips off the ground. Slowly raise your back one vertebra at a time, until the knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Hold that position before slowly lowering your hips back to the floor.
I do this exercise while still lying in bed before I get up in the morning. I find it is excellent in reducing lower back pain.
4 – Squats
This exercise makes it easier for you to take the stairs, pick up things from the floor or get up from sitting on a chair. The entire lower body is strengthened, and the core is engaged as you do this exercise. You may want to hold on to the back of a chair for support.
Instructions: To do this exercise, imagine that you are sitting down onto a chair. Reach your hips back, bending your knees as you lower your body, inhaling as you go down and exhaling as you come up.
Take a nice wide stance, with feet at least shoulder width apart. The wider your feet are apart, the easier it is to balance.
Extend your arms directly in front of you as a counterbalance to your hips, so that your arms are parallel to the floor. Slowly lower your body as if you are sitting in a chair. Align your knees above the big and second toe, so that you can still see your big toe. This will help to prevent knee pain. Pause, then slowly lift yourself to a standing position.
This is a different variation of squats. The wall squats are particularly good to strengthen your upper legs. They can be done anywhere you have a wall or door jamb to lean up against.
Instructions: You can do this exercise with your back directly against a wall for support and your feet about two feet out in front of you, hip distance apart. Slowly lower your body into a squatting position.
- strengthen weak muscles
- increase flexibility
- shape and tone your buttocks
- help you rise from a chair more quickly
- help you climb stairs more easily
- help runners increase their endurance
- improve balance and stability
5 – Toe Raises
Toe raises are for your calf muscles. As we age, some of us have trouble with varicose veins, where the valves in our veins don’t work as well. This exercise helps get the blood circulating. The leg muscles help to pump the blood back to the heart.
Instructions: Facing the wall, place your feet about 2 feet away from the wall. Place your hands on the wall and raise your body up on your toes. Hold yourself there for a moment, then lower your body to the ground. Do about 10 to 15 repetitions of this exercise.
As a variation you could hold on to the back of a sturdy chair, instead of putting your hands on the wall.
Remember to breathe while doing these exercises. One typical mistake done while doing many of these exercises is holding your breath. As one person said, the only time you should hold your breath while exercising is when swimming under water.
For your own personal interest, Bob and Brad had several exercises geared to older adults that take little or no special equipment.
I always find it fun to watch Bob and Brad – 2 Physical Therapists on YouTube. This morning I watched
“Exercises for People over 60, YOU CAN DO IT! (At Home)” by Bob and Brad.
To Sum Things Up
We can slow down and perhaps prevent many of the negative effects of aging by following these 5 best strength training exercises for seniors. By simply being more active, and keeping our bodies moving, we can improve our overall mood and outlook on life as well.
Please Leave a Comment
I would love to hear from you. What 5 best strength training exercises for seniors do you suggest? Are there any special exercises that you find helpful?
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or physical therapist. Before beginning any exercise program or if you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.