The body is like a machine: it needs attention and effort to stay in the best shape. This is true at all stages of life, but especially in older age. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all adults do strength training exercises at least twice a week and this includes aging adults. It’s never too late to start building these habits into your routine.
How Aging Impacts Muscle Strength
Aging is associated with a variety of impacts on the body’s vitality, summed up into a condition called Sarcopenia. Sarcopenia includes progressive muscle weakness in older adults, loss of muscle mass, and decreased physical function. Body fat, bone density, bone porosity, joint flexibility, reaction time, and aerobic capacity are all impacted by aging, as well, and sarcopenia can also increase the likelihood of physical disability.
Keeping Your Muscles Strong as You Age
There are plenty of benefits to physical exercise at all ages, but staying active is especially important for older adults. Along with sarcopenia, older adults often experience higher levels of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Exercise can help improve your mental health, fighting these conditions, boosting your mood, and raising your quality of life.
In addition, strength training exercises specifically can help reduce the effects of Sarcopenia by combating signs of muscle wasting, preserving bone density, and supporting overall health. It can also improve the body’s physical function and composition.
Safe Exercises For Aging Adults
Whether strength training or doing cardio, exercise needs to be done carefully to avoid causing injury. Start slow and take time to build up strength and endurance. Muscle loss in aging adults can be reversed with effort, but the true goal is to stay active and gain strength over time.
Before you get started, make sure you know the difference between pain and muscle soreness. Taking classes or working with a trainer are the best options to make sure the exercises are being done safely.
Basic Strength Training Exercises For Older Adults
Hip bridges work a lot of different muscles in the body, including the hamstrings, hips, glutes, and core. To do this exercise, lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Then, lift your hips up as high as possible and lower them back down to the ground to complete one rep.
Bicep curls can be done in a seated or standing position. Start with no weights to learn the correct form, then add on weight gradually as you get stronger. Hold your arms at the sides of your body. Then, one arm at a time, bend at the elbow. Bring the weight or your hand toward your biceps, as high as you can without moving your elbow, to build arm and shoulder strength.
A regular push-up on the floor may be too difficult to start with for someone just beginning to build up their muscles. To do a wall push-up instead, stand with your arms straight out and close enough to a wall to put your palms flat against it. Then, lean forward to the wall then push yourself back to standing using only your arms and core.
Chair squats are great exercises for strengthening leg muscles in older adults. Start standing in front of a chair and carefully bend down as if about to sit. Stop just above the actual chair, then return to a standing position to complete one rep.
Benefits For All
There are countless benefits to staying active and getting your body moving. Strength training is great for combating muscle loss in older adults, but anything you can do to get your blood pumping is great. Dancing or walking are other fun ways to stay active and keep your body in the best shape possible.
For more information on healthy aging, visit us at The Good Shepherd Community.