By Leah Wagner, Wellness Director at Westminster Village
Muscle-strengthening exercises are just as important for older adults as they are for all other ages. Without them, you may have difficulty performing your activities of daily living. Strength is defined as the quality or state of being physically strong. How do you know if you are strong enough? Place a chair with no arms against a wall. Sit in the chair and place your hands across your shoulders. Keeping your hands on your shoulders, are you able to rise to a standing position? If you had trouble standing up, you may want to consider incorporating strength exercises in your workout routine. There are also other ways to test your strength. Seek guidance from an exercise specialist to examine your strength and help you find the best exercises to improve or maintain your current strength levels.
Did you know that older adults gain strength at approximately the same rate as younger adults? That does not mean you need to lift the heaviest weights or become a bodybuilder. Strength training can be done with free weights, exercise machines, elastic bands, and even body weight. Strength training is a type of physical exercise focusing on the use of resistance to encourage your muscles to contract, which builds the strength and size of your skeletal muscles. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends seniors strength train two days per week at a light, moderate, or vigorous intensity. It is also recommended to perform a progressive weight-training or weight-bearing program including 8 to 10 exercises involving the major muscle groups; one set of 10 to 15 repetitions each.
Strength training has many benefits if performed correctly. Studies show that regularly exercising slows down the aging process. Some outward benefits include less joint pain, less bone loss, and more ability to move. Strength training may be one of the best ways to get relief from arthritis. Not only will it help to lubricate the joint, it will also strengthen the muscles around the joint, providing it with greater support.
Performing strength exercises can also give you a sense of confidence. You can walk a little taller and feel a little better by building a strong frame. When it comes to disease prevention and treatment, strengthening the bones to prevent or treat osteoporosis is another key benefit. Bones are like muscles that respond to exercise by becoming stronger. Strength training can also significantly improve the most important muscle in your body — your heart — and lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. More advantages include improving your balance and coordination to reduce your risk of falling. If you are looking to lower your body weight or body fat, strength training can help increase your metabolism.
Strength training can improve the quality of your life at any age. In the past, getting weaker with age was thought to be normal, but research shows that this is not true. Inactivity is the culprit, not aging itself. Before you start any strength-training program, please consult a medical professional and find a well-qualified trainer. After that, you can begin to enjoy the positive effects of strength training.
Westminster Village is a continuing care retirement community, located at 2025 East Lincoln Street in Bloomington. Celebrating life, their mission is to provide excellence in senior living through a continuum of care and services. For more information, contact them at
309-663-6474 or visit www.westminstervillageinc.com.