Strength training is often associated with heavy weights and intense lifting, but contrary to popular belief, it’s a very adaptable form of exercise that everyone can partake in.
Strength training is particularly important for older adults as it helps to slow down some of the natural bodily changes that occur as we age. The trick is to stay consistent and to only push your body as much as your abilities allow.
Why is strength training for older adults essential?
Ageing is something we should all embrace. It’s normal for your body to change as you reach your golden years. Things you were able to do in your young years may become more strenuous to partake in, and that’s okay! Whilst there is no way to reverse ageing, there are habits that we can adopt that will help us remain healthy for as long as possible. And strength training is one of them!
Some benefits include:
- Improved mood: As the saying goes, ‘a healthy body is a healthy mind’! Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical, and the great thing is that the two are closely correlated. When you exercise, your body releases many neurotransmitters such as endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. These brain chemicals all have a positive impact on reducing stress, boosting your mood and overall sense of wellbeing.
- Improved bone and muscle health: osteoporosis and sarcopenia are both extremely common conditions amongst seniors. Osteoporosis leads to weak and brittle bones, and sarcopenia is characterised by loss of skeletal muscle mass and function. Strength training plays a major role in slowing down the effects of these conditions as it focuses on improving form, stability, and movement.
- Decreases fall-related injuries: the goal of strength training is to increase muscle mass. Because balance is dependent on the strength of the muscles that keep you on your feet, weight exercises will benefit your overall coordination and posture.
Types of exercises you can do
It’s important to adapt strength training according to your abilities. The last thing you want to do is injure yourself while exercising. The following exercises can be modified to be as easy or as challenging as you like.
Push-ups from the ground can be difficult to achieve, so a great alternative is to do them against the wall instead. As you get more used to them and your body becomes stronger, you can then progress to knee or full push-ups.
This exercise targets your calves and ankles and will help with your body’s stability. Grab the back of a chair for balance, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly push your heels off the ground.
Squatting is a popular exercise that strengthens your whole entire body and core. To keep this exercise safe, use the help of a chair or a bench to catch you if you lose balance. Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart, and slowly bend your knees as if you were going to sit down on the chair.
Bicep curls are great to strengthen your arms. Before using weights, practice good posture and getting the form correct. Once you’ve done that, you can focus on using the appropriate weight and increasing the number of repetitions.
And there you have it! Strength training for older adults is extremely beneficial to stay in good shape. Remember to always warm-up before you start exercising, and to consult a professional to lower the risks of injury.