Strength Training for Seniors
As you age, so does your body. Muscles and bones will weaken if you’re not exercising regularly. Seniors can benefit from strength training, as it helps to build up bone and muscle to increase endurance and strength.
“Some of the benefits of strength training are building muscular strength, better balance and posture, and more energy,” said physical fitness specialist Dion Begay. “Muscles don’t wear out as quickly [when you’re] doing activities of daily living, and [you build] greater bone density.”
Begay explained that in the unfortunate event where a senior falls, seniors who have practiced regular strength training are less likely to fracture any bones. They will also recover more quickly.
Begay is also the instructor for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Enhance Fitness program, which aims to improve the health of seniors and older adults through exercise.
Regular strength training can help seniors fight:
- Osteoporosis (skeletal material begins to weaken and deteriorate)
- Arthritis (attacks joint cartilage and synovial membrane)
- Pulmonary disease (relief is provided through abdominal and chest muscle exercises)
- Type 2 diabetes (any exercise helps control blood sugar)
- Back problems (improved by working the lumbar and sacral area)
Two Common Forms of Strength Training
Isometric exercise: This involves tensing your muscle without movement (i.e., pressing your leg down while someone blocks any movement).
Progressive resistance exercise: This involves free weights, elastic exercise bands or adjustable commercial cable machines (use proper technique to avoid injury).
“A lot of the exercises we do [during the Enhance Fitness classes] can be done while seated. If you’re not comfortable [doing an exercise while] standing, it can be modified. Stay seated. You don’t have to get up out of your chair,” said Begay.
For more information about the Enhance Fitness Program, call the Salt River Fitness Center at (480) 362-7320.
|SIT TO STAND|
|Begin by standing with a chair behind you, your knees just in front of the seat. Lower yourself towards the chair as if attempting to sit.||Lean forward as you bend your knees and before you touch the chair, pause then stand back up to a full upright position.|
|SEATED LEG EXTENSIONS|
|Begin by sitting in a chair. Use hands to brace yourself to both sides of the chair to help with balance.||Carefully lift one leg, making a 90-degree angle. Repeat with the other leg. Remember to breathe.|
|Begin by sitting in chair. Carefully grab light dumbbells, soup cans or a water bottle and place arms on both sides of your body.||Carefully complete an arm curl, lifting to shoulders while your elbows are still by your side. Breathe.|
|While sitting in a chair, slightly lean forward with dumbbells in hand at a 90-degree angle. Elbows should be near waist.||Carefully extend arms backwards, allowing arms to fully extend behind. Remember to breathe.|
Safety Tips When Exercising
- Warm up and cool down for at least 10 minutes
- Stop exercising if you feel pain
- Maintain a good upright posture during all exercises
- Don’t hold your breath while exercising
- Use proper breathing techniques
- Don’t grip hand weights too tightly
- Perform all movements in a slow, smooth manner; don’t jerk
- Hold onto the back of a chair for extra support while exercising
- Check with your doctor or trainer before beginning any exercise program