Updated: Oct 9
As we age, it's common to experience a decline in muscle mass and overall strength. This often leads to a number of health issues, including reduced mobility, an increased risk of falls, and a loss of independence. However, there is a way to combat this decline and maintain our strength as we get older. Resistance training, or strength training for seniors, is a powerful tool.
Strength training is a type of exercise that involves using resistance to build and maintain muscle mass and strength. While it may seem intimidating, it's actually an incredibly accessible and effective form of exercise, even for mature adults. In fact, studies have shown that strength training can have a number of benefits for older adults, from improving bone density to reducing the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Regular strength training has been shown to help older people maintain muscle mass, enhance balance, increase bone density, and lower their risk of falling and other accidents.
In this blog, we'll take a closer look at the many benefits of strength training for older adults, as well as some tips for getting started with a strength training program. Whether you're looking to maintain your independence, improve your overall health, or simply feel stronger and more confident in your daily life, strength training is a great place to start.
Let's dive in: the amazing benefits of strength training for older adults
1. Strength and muscle mass gain:
As we age, we typically lose muscle mass, which can cause weakness, trouble performing daily tasks, and a higher risk of accidents and injuries. Increasing muscle mass and strength through strength training can benefit older people's general physical function and quality of life.
2. Balance and coordination:
Strength training can lower the chance of falls and injuries. Given that falls are the most common cause of injury and hospitalization among older adults, this is crucial.
3. Improves bone density:
Strength training lowers the risk of fractures and osteoporosis and reduces the likelihood of these conditions. This is crucial for women, especially because they are more likely to develop osteoporosis as they age.
4. Strengthening the muscles around the joints and boosting flexibility:
These are two ways that strength training can help improve joint health. For adults with arthritis, this can be particularly helpful in reducing joint pain and stiffness.
5. Improves metabolic health:
This is because it increases muscle mass and enhances insulin sensitivity. By doing so, the chance of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases can be decreased.
How to get started with strength training if you're an older adult
A great method for older adults to enhance their overall health and quality of life is through strength training. Strength training can help mature adults maintain their independence, mobility, and active lifestyles by boosting strength, balance, and mobility.
Here are some pointers to get you started with weight training if you're an older adult interested in doing so:
Before beginning any new fitness program, speak with your doctor to ensure it is safe and suitable for your medical background to begin new exercises. Additionally, your doctor can advise you on any adjustments or safety measures you need to take.
Start with bodyweight exercises:
Squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks are good bodyweight routines to begin with if you're new to strength training. Without any special equipment or heavy weights, you can strengthen your body and enhance your balance by performing these activities.
Use resistance bands:
You can add force to your strength training exercises without using heavy weights by using resistance bands. They can be used at home or while traveling because they are mobile.
Work with a qualified fitness professional:
If you're new to strength training or have any medical conditions that require special consideration, consider working with a qualified fitness professional or physical therapist who can design a safe and effective exercise program that's tailored to your individual needs.
Focus on form:
To prevent injury and maximize the benefits of each strength training exercise, it's crucial to concentrate on good form when completing these exercises. Maintain excellent posture, tighten the muscles in your core, and refrain from jerky or sudden movements.
As you gain strength, progressively increase the resistance or weight in your workouts to increase the intensity. But be careful not to exert too much force too soon, as this can raise your risk of getting hurt.
Make it a habit:
Physical activity is most effective when it becomes a regular part of your practice. For a well-rounded fitness regimen, attempt to include other types of exercise like aerobic exercise and flexibility training in addition to strength training at least twice or three times per week.
For older adults, strength training can be a secure and efficient method to enhance their health and quality of life. You can begin strength training and enjoy its many advantages by paying attention to these pointers and working with a certified fitness expert or physical therapist.
What is the role of strength training in preventing falls and injuries?
Particularly for older people, strength training can be crucial in preventing falls and injuries. Age-related muscle loss can result in weakness and an elevated risk of mishaps and injuries. Muscle mass can be maintained and even increased through strength training, which can enhance total physical performance and quality of life.
Strength exercise not only increases muscle mass but also balance and coordination. This is significant because older people frequently sustain injuries from falls that require hospitalization. Strength training can help lower the risk of accidents and injuries by enhancing balance and coordination.
Especially for women who are more susceptible to osteoporosis as they age, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Additionally, improving joint health can benefit older people with arthritis by strengthening the muscles around the joints and increasing flexibility.
Last but not least, strength training can improve metabolic health by boosting insulin sensitivity and muscle mass, which can help lower the chance of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
Physical activity, especially strength training, can help maintain bodily function and quality of life by enhancing muscle mass, balance, coordination, bone density, and joint health while lowering the risk of accidents and metabolic diseases.
The best exercises for older adults to build strength and improve balance
Mature adults should choose activities that are safe, efficient, and suitable for their level of fitness when looking to improve their strength and balance. The following are some of the top activities for older adults to think about:
Squats are a fantastic workout for strengthening the lower body and enhancing balance. Squats can be performed using only your body weight or with the addition of weights or a resistance band. Remember to start slow and make progress as strength builds.
Another excellent lower body activity that can strengthen and improve balance is the lunge. Lunges can be done with just your body weight or with additional weight, similar to squats.
Push-ups against a wall are a fantastic upper-body exercise that can help exercisers develop their arms, shoulders, and chest muscles. They are a secure and efficient substitute for conventional push-ups, which can be difficult for older people.
Using a strong chair or bench, you can execute this excellent upper-body exercise. People who perform them can strengthen their chest and biceps.
Exercises for single-legged balance:
Single-legged balance exercises are a wonderful way to increase stability and balance. You can try standing on one foot for 30 to 60 seconds, or attempt more difficult exercises like heel-to-toe walking or single-leg squats, which help knee pain for many clients who previously suffered from it.
A gentle type of exercise that can enhance balance, flexibility, and general fitness is Tai Chi. It is a wonderful choice for folks of all fitness levels because it involves slow, flowing movements that can be carried out while standing or sitting.
It's crucial to keep in mind that older adults should begin slowly and progressively increase their strength and balance over time. Before beginning a new exercise program, they should also speak with their doctor or a certified fitness expert to make sure it's secure and suitable for their particular requirements and degree of fitness.
The importance of proper form and technique when strength training as a senior adult
Utilizing correct form and technique when performing strength training exercises can help lower the risk of injury. Older adults can exercise safely and effectively by keeping good posture, using their core muscles, avoiding sudden or jerky movements, and avoiding progressing too quickly.
Enhance muscle activation:
When performing strength training activities, good form and technique can help guarantee that the targeted muscles are engaged. Exercisers benefit most from each exercise by doing this and prevent compensating with other muscles, which can result in imbalances and injury.
You can optimize your strength gains during strength training by using the right form and technique. Build muscle more effectively and efficiently by making sure the muscles are correctly activated and worked.
Enhance balance and stability:
Proper form and technique can aid in enhancing balance and stability, which is crucial for older people who may be more susceptible to accidents or falls. You can increase balance and stability both inside and outside of the gym by keeping good posture and using your core muscles during strength training exercises.
Using correct form and technique when performing strength training can help people feel more confident and motivated. Clients tend to become more confident in their strength training ability and more inspired to stick to an exercise program by performing exercises properly and safely.
The benefits of strength training for older adults with chronic health conditions (e.g. arthritis, diabetes, heart disease)
For older adults with chronic illnesses like arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease, strength training is a crucial type of exercise. Contrary to popular belief, elders with these conditions can safely and effectively engage in strength training, which has a number of positive effects on general health and wellbeing.
The following are some advantages of strength exercises for older adults with long-term medical conditions:
Strength training can help adults with arthritis have better joint health by strengthening the muscles around the joints that are affected. This can enhance general mobility and range of motion while easing pain and stiffness.
Strength training can help adults with diabetes better manage their blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity and enhancing muscle glucose uptake.
By enhancing cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure, and lowering cholesterol levels, strength exercise can help reduce their risk of developing heart disease.
Strength training can help adults with osteoporosis increase their bone density and lower their chance of fractures.
Strength training can help those with balance problems or a history of falls improve their stability and balance by strengthening their lower body and core muscles.
Exercise can have a beneficial effect on mood and mental health, reducing the signs of anxiety and depression and enhancing general quality of life.
Adults with chronic medical conditions can benefit greatly from strength training and enhance their general health and quality of life with the proper direction and assistance. Working with a qualified fitness expert or physical therapist to create a safe and efficient strength training program that is suited to their unique requirements and medical background is crucial for those with chronic health conditions.
In conclusion, strength training can provide numerous benefits for mature adults, including improved muscle strength, bone density, balance, and coordination. To get started with strength training, you can begin with bodyweight exercises and gradually progress to using resistance bands, dumbbells, or weight machines. Strength training can also play a vital role in preventing falls and injuries by improving balance and coordination.
Some of the best exercises to build strength and improve balance include squats, lunges, step-ups, calf raises, and planks. It's essential to work with a qualified trainer or physical therapist to ensure proper form and technique, particularly if you have chronic health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease, where strength training can provide numerous benefits, such as improving insulin sensitivity and reducing joint pain and stiffness. Overall, strength training is a safe and effective way for retirees to maintain their independence and improve their quality of life.
If you’re ready to get started with a free consultation and customized training program, book a call with us today.