As people grow older, their muscles and joints begin to break down. Add to that the fact that seniors have more brittle bones than their younger relatives, and it seems as though you are making a recipe for disaster. Seniors are at an increased risk for falling and becoming injured due to their brittle bones, muscles and joints. However, there is one thing that can help decrease a senior’s risk of falling and keep them healthy. Resistance training is a type of exercise that allows your elderly loved ones to build up their muscles slowly. This type of training can help them regain muscle mass, which in turn, can protect their joints and their bones. As your loved ones get stronger, their chances of falling and getting injured decreases drastically. For this reason, after getting an okay from their doctor, many seniors are choosing to hit the gym and try their hand at resistance training.
What is Resistance Training?
Resistance training, or strength training, is a type of physical activity that allows someone to work their muscles in a very controlled manner. This type of training can work muscle groups and individual muscles through weight lifting, utilizing exercise balls, using exercise bands, or any other objects that produces resistance in your muscles. Cans of soup and gallons of milk are both great objects to utilize during resistance training if your loved one does not have access to a gym or weights. Resistance training can be completed virtually anywhere, and does not take very long at all. To get the most benefits out of resistance training, seniors should aim to train two to three days per week, and do 8 to 12 repetitions of each of their exercises.
Resistance Training Benefits
Resistance training is an important aspect of physical health for all ages. Seniors can especially benefit from resistance training because it allows them to keep their muscles, bones and joints strong. All age groups can benefit from resistance training due to the following benefits:
- Resistance training can enhance aerobic training, and allow your loved one to gain muscle and lose any extra fat they may have.
- This type of training allows people to function better throughout their everyday life. Through resistance training they can move groceries easier, gain stamina, and be able to move things around their home.
- Resistance training promotes strong muscles all over the body, and adds strength to the entire body.
- This type of training can also improve any aerobic activity you may already partake in. For example, if you are a swimmer, then resistance training can enhance your swimming abilities.
- Resistance training has also been linked to an enhanced psychological well-being. It allows you to gain a more positive self-image and become more physically fit.
Why Should Seniors Participate in Resistance Training
Seniors should participate in resistance training for a variety of reasons. Various studies have shown that resistance training is healthy for everyone, including your elderly loved ones. Seniors may reap some of the following benefits if they do resistance training a few times per week:
- People over the age of 80 still have the ability to gain new muscle. By adding resistance training to their weekly routine, they can increase their muscle strength and their muscle endurance.
- Weight training helps seniors have more endurance, especially when it comes to walking. By training their legs, they can build up their leg strength and muscles, and be able to walk longer distances without getting tired. By walking farther distances, they can also improve their cardiovascular health and their overall health.
- Women of any age have the ability to increase their bone mass if they participate in regular resistance training sessions. Resistance training can increase a woman’s bone mass in her elderly years and prevent bone breaks and injuries, even if she is post-menopausal.
- Resistance training improves seniors’ overall quality of life. It allows them to go throw the aging process at a healthy rate and feel good about themselves as they age.
- Regular resistance training can even reduce the risk of your loved one feeling depressed as they grow older.
Resistance training and aerobic exercise may also reduce your loved one’s risk of having a heart attack and stroke. Studies have shown that people who stay sedentary as they grow older are at a higher risk for these illnesses. By exercising regular, your loved one can stay healthy.
How to Get Started With Resistance Training
Resistance training is very easy to begin. Your loved one does not have to hit the gym or buy any weights to start. To begin, they must start slow, especially if their muscles, bones and joints are brittle. The first step in beginning a resistance training program is to talk with their doctor. Your elderly loved ones should have a full physical exam and talk with their doctor to determine if they are strong enough to start a resistance training plan. Their doctor may offer them suggestions on how often to exercise and how to exercise. Next, your loved one may wish to call a professional trainer. A professional trainer can come to their home and teach them how to use items found in their own home to train. Through a few simple sessions, a professional trainer can help your loved one develop their own resistance training exercise routine and give them pointers on how to increase their strength. Finally, they should start their routine. Start slow and always listen to what the professional trainer has to say. Plus, they may wish to incorporate extra stretching before and after their workout in order to keep their muscles flexible. Stretching can help them warm up and cool down before and after a workout, and it allows them to stay healthy during their exercise routine.
Resistance training is a great way to build up strength, especially for seniors. If your elderly loved one needs to build up their muscle mass in order to keep their muscles, joints and bones healthy, then suggest that they start a resistance training program. This type of program can help them stay healthy and strong as they grow older.
Check the following articles in our home care blog about fitness and remaining active:
- Caregiver Tips: Preventing Back Injuries While Lifting Someone
- Summer Activities for Seniors
- Exercise Tips for Seniors with limited mobility (Part 1 of 2)
- The Benefits of Gardening for Seniors