As an elderly person, you probably realize your body is nowhere near like it used to be, and that you could be much frailer and have less energy than when you were younger. However, this does not have to stop you from getting fit and staying limber so that you can enjoy your life as much as possible.
With moderate sessions of weight training, you can see the benefits from it in a short amount of time. Many studies have proven that when seniors participate in strength training, they build up their bone and muscle, plus they counteract the weakness and frailty that comes along with aging. When you exercise your muscles, you will be increasing your muscular strength of course, but you will also be raising your muscular endurance, enabling you to repeat the movements over and over again. Most seniors are able to safely start a fitness program.
Benefits of Strength Training for the Elderly
Balance – As you age, your balance naturally declines from your muscular strength and tone also declining. You can improve your balance by including a strength training regimen into your normal schedule.
Osteoporosis – Help prevent this condition, which is deterioration and weakening of your bones, especially in women. It can cause a deformity in your hips and your spine.
Pulmonary disease – Many times this is labeled as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. You can find some relief to the symptoms of it when you strengthen your chest and abdomen muscles.
Arthritis – Very commonly seen, it is a type of rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Arthritis can affect you cartilage in your joints and your synovial membrane.
Diabetes – Type II diabetes can be helped from a regular exercise routine. You can control your blood sugar more easily with regular exercise, thereby enhancing the quality of your life.
Obesity – If you are overweight, this can put you at risk for orthopedic injuries, especially when you are older. A low intensity strength training program will help you stay at a healthy weight.
Back Problems – There are stretches and back exercises that can be very beneficial when you are experiencing back pain. There are strengthening and stretching exercises that focus on your sacral and lumbar area.
Staying Safe While Participating in Strength Training Exercises for the Elderly
While participating in strength training exercises as an elderly person, it is easy to stay safe with some simple things that anyone who is performing exercise should remember. You will first want to make sure you take the time to warm up for ten minutes before any exercise begins, and also cool down for at least ten minutes when you are done exercising. You’ll want to remain good posture during all exercising, remaining upright.
You should be performing all movements slowly, so you can easily moderate them to keep from straining yourself too much. This will also make sure you are comfortable with the level of exertion you are putting out. Also, do not hold your breath during any exercise; instead, let your breath out when you are on the exertion part of the exercise. Don’t grip any weights too tightly as you can hurt your hands, and remember to expect some soreness in your stomach muscles, but stop exercising if you are feeling any pain in your joints.
Different Forms of Strength Training for the Elderly
Just because you are older, you are not limited to only a few types of exercises. There are many different ways that you can work your muscles, but the two most common are progressive resistance exercise and isometric exercise.
Progressive resistance is a training method that helps to strengthen your muscles. Whenever you use free weights, the elastic exercise bands or adjustable commercial cable machines, you are strengthening your muscles. If you are conditioned already, you can train in this way safely as long as you have already first checked with your doctor. Always keep in mind, however that you need to be careful with heavier weights because they can cause injury and even increase your blood pressure when you are older. You will most certainly want to seek out professional advice if you want to attempt a strength training routine that involves heavier weights.
Isometric exercise is when you are tensing your muscles without any movement. For example, when you press your leg down while someone else blocks you from actually moving your leg by holding your leg. Promoted by Charles Atlas, this form of exercise is a bit different than the traditional forms, but can be very beneficial to the elderly. With these form of exercise, you are not working on your flexibility or joint range of motion, since there is no movement.
Tips for Seniors Who Wish To Strength Train
If you and your doctor decide that strength training is right for you, there are some things that you should remember. You want to find the right intensity when you are exercising for strength and you need to find a balance between increasing the amount you are lifting and keeping yourself from injury. Usually after around two weeks of beginning your program you can start to increase the weights you are using.
It is OK for you to begin with very little or no resistance at all. You want to make sure you find a level that you are comfortable with. You can always increase your levels as you progress and see what your body is able to handle. Exercising around two to three times per week with at least 48 hours of rest in-between is a good general rule to go by. If you want to train more often, you can train alternating muscle groups on different days.
Above all else, you should have a professional trainer to guide you through your strength training routine. I also have the knowledge experience with other elderly people to help you to establish your routine so that it is safe for you individually. With my guidance, you will be able to enjoy a fun routine that will bring you several different benefits to your overall health.