Seniors, Whole Health

Strength Training Basics – For Seniors

We start losing muscle after the age of 40.  Resistance training, AKA strength training, works to prevent this muscle loss and helps to maintain and build healthy bones.

During strength training muscle pulls against bone.  The force of the muscle pulling against the bone stimulates bone building  and improves calcium retention.  This increased strength will help to:

  • prevent falls
  • climb stairs
  • get up out of a chair
  • increase muscle elasticity
  • strengthen connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments.

In general, exercise and strength training will improve quality of life by helping to slow down and even reversing some diseases that are caused by a sedentary lifestyle such as: type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart and metabolic disease.

Just starting out?

Begin slowly.  Start with no weight or very little weight and then slowly increase the amount of weight.  This is called Progressive Overload, progressively placing greater demands on the muscles and bone.

Increase loads as is comfortable.  Resistance bands or household items such as cans of soup, bags of rice or potatoes can are a good alternative to using dumbbells.

Do enough repetitions so that the muscles become too tired to lift any more.  This is referred to as training to failure (momentary muscle failure).

Aim for three sets of 8 to 10 reps.  When the exercise becomes too easy, either increase the amount of the weight or add more reps.  Lifting lighter weights for more repetitions is just as effective as heavy ones for fewer reps.

Try to perform at least 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercises once a week.  You will, no doubt, experience muscle soreness – sometimes not until a day or two later.

Muscle soreness is not necessarily a bad thing.  It is an indication that the body is becoming stronger.  However, do not over-do it, and be sure to give the body plenty of time to recover from an exercise routine.

Also, exercise recovery tends to take longer as we age.  For people with lower bone mass, exercises such as walking or low-impact aerobics is a safe choice.

For most people, exercise should not be a problem.  However, for some individuals increasing their level of physical activity can have an adverse effect.   These people may need to seek medical advice concerning the most suitable type of activity to fit their needs.

Please consult with your professional healthcare provider before beginning any new exercise regimen as to whether the activity/exercise is appropriate for you.  Strength training exercises for older adults may include squats, deadlifts, lunges and overhead presses.  Over time, increase weight to increase difficulty and intensity.  Examples:

Shrug2  Shrug

  1. Stand up straight with feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent.
  2. Hold dumbbells in each hand with palms facing in (toward torso).
  3. Keeping arms straight, elevate (raise up) shoulders high.  Pause.
  4. Lower shoulders back down to normal position. That is 1 rep.
  5. Do 10 – 15 reps.

UprightRow  Upright Rows

Increase strength in both the back and upper arms.  Improve shoulder range of motion shoulders and elbow joint mobility.

  1. Stand with good posture; feet are about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent.
  2. Hold dumbbells in each hand in front of torso.
  3. Leading with the elbows, lift the weights together upward toward the chin. Or alternate lifting one hand at a time.
  4. Keep abs tight, using your core muscles.  Do not arch back.
  5. Return to starting position.  That’s one rep.
  6. Repeat for 10 reps.

DeltoidRaise  Front Deltoid Raise

  1. Stand with good posture; feet are about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent.
  2. Hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs, palms facing thighs.
  3. Keeping arms straight raise the dumbbells at arm’s length overhead.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for 8 – 10 repetitions for each arm.

Squat  Plie Squat (Dumbbell Between Feet)

  1. To start, sand straight up with feet wider than shoulder distance apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell by one end.
  3. Bend knees until thighs parallel to floor, and the other end of the dumbbell touches the floor.
  4. Pressing through your heels stand back up to the starting position.
  5. Keep your back straight throughout the exercise.  Do 6-8 reps.

 

Wall Sit  Wall Sit

Performing the wall sit will strengthen the quadriceps (front of thighs) muscles.

  1. To start, place your back against a wall.  The feet should be shoulder width apart and forward from the wall.
  2. Engaging the core muscles, slide down leaning against the wall until knees are at a 90° angle (thighs parallel to the floor).  Knees should end up directly above ankles.
  3. Hold this position for 20 – 30 seconds.
  4. Compete with yourself by gradually increasing the hold time to 60 seconds or longer.

 

Fitness, Seniors

Exercise – Reduce the Risk for Dementia.

How does exercise work to help prevent dementia?

As aging occurs the brain begins to shrink, specifically the hippocampus.  The hippocampus is the area of the brain involved with memory function. 

Exercising helps to increase the size of the hippocampus.  Not only does exercise work to slow brain shrinkage; it also aids in:

  • lowering high blood pressure
  • promoting blood vessel flexibility (to maintain blood flow to the brain)
  • creating new neurons (for the transmission of nerve impulses)
  • enhancing mental capability
  • reducing stress.

Aerobic / high intensity exercise also increases levels of the brain protein that works to repair and protect the brain. 

Strength training is important too.  It:

  • improves mental skills and cognitive function
  • develops muscle mass for improved bone density, balance, resting metabolic rate (bigger muscles burn more calories).

 

 

Seniors, Whole Health

Exercise for the Aging Population

What type of exercise is recommended for the aging population?  Aerobic exercise improves oxygen consumption and metabolism.  Maintaining aerobic fitness during middle age and beyond can delay biological aging by up to 12 years and prolong independence during old age.

A study in an issue of JAMA reports that walking two (2) miles a day reduced the risk of dementia in older men.  2,257 men from ages 71 to 93 were studied for about six years.  Those who walked less than a quarter of a mile a day were 1.8 times more likely to develop dementia than those who walked more than 2 miles.

Two other studies showed a reduction in the rate of dementia in older men.  Long term physical activity that included walking showed improved cognitive function in older women.  Increases in cardiovascular health from the physical activity probably helped to improve brain health.

Not only is aerobic training essential as aging takes place, but also strength training and flexibility/stretching are important.  By strengthening leg and other muscles balance is improved and the risk of falling is lessened.

Dynamic-Leg2

Seniors, Wellness, Whole Health

A Quick Exercise To Do At Work … or anywhere

The Basic Chair Squat exercises the buns, hips and thighs and it can be done any time / anywhere!  Squats are one of the best lower body exercises.  This particular squat is easy on beginners and folks with knee issues.  And it’s a good functional exercise because it mimics everyday movements.  Here’s how to do it:

  1. Securely place a chair behind you (make certain that it won’t roll or move) and then stand in front of it.  Keep your feet about shoulder width apart.
  2. Now, tighten your stomach (ab) muscles while bending your knees.  Slowly continue to bend your knees and start to squat down towards the chair.
  3. Be sure to keep your knees behind your toes.  Sit down in the chair for a few seconds.
  4. Now, tighten your thigh muscles and lift up out of the chair; straighten your legs to a standing position.
  5. Do this several times.

After some days of  practice with doing this, try to just hover over the seat of the chair – don’t actually sit down, then straighten up the legs to standing.  Repeat.  Watch those knees, don’t let them go past your toes.

ChairSquatA