When you hear the words “strength training,” you might think of a large man pumping iron in a gym somewhere. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be Vin Diesel to give your muscles a good workout. Strength training for seniors is simple to do, and it’s a great idea if you want to keep comfortably enjoying your golden years.
Strength Training for Seniors
Does the idea of strength training intimidate you? If you’ve never done it before, you might be imagining all the things that make it feel out of reach: confusing gym equipment, heavy weights, and uncomfortable spandex gear. Some seniors consider strength training to be a “young man’s game” and think they won’t be able to do it because of the physical effort required.
However, most exercise experts agree that strength training becomes more important as you age, not less. Strength training addresses many of the unique health issues seniors encounter as they age. It counteracts the effects of age-related muscle loss, it improves bone density and cardiovascular fitness, and it even can strengthen your sense of balance. Helping your body become stronger now will let you continue to enjoy a well-earned retirement.
What Is Strength Training?
Strength training refers to exercises that target specific groups of muscles in your body. The goal is to make them stronger by adding resistance to movements, which helps your muscles build strength and endurance. Most strength training uses weights to provide resistance, though some people prefer elastic bands or other devices.
How Can I Get Started?
The best part about strength training is that you don’t have to push yourself that hard for it to be effective. Experts only recommend two 30-minute strength training workouts per week for seniors. In other words, if you’re already exercising regularly, it should be easy to add strength training to your usual movement routines. (And if you aren’t, this is a good reason to start!)
Talk to Your Doctor First
As always, you need to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise plan. Strength training purposefully puts your muscles in a state of tension, which can cause strain to your body in a variety of ways. Discuss strength training for seniors with your doctor and be sure to ask about any underlying conditions that could affect your performance, such as arthritis or balance issues.
Find Your Workout
Strength training includes a wide variety of activities, including:
- Lifting weights or working with resistance bands
- Bodyweight exercises (lunges, squats, push-ups, crunches, and other calisthenics)
- Full-body yoga
Because there are a lot of ways to strength train, you have a lot of freedom in how you build a workout. For a beginner, it’s best to start with an established program or work with a professional trainer. This total body workout is a great example of a simple strength training program that would be appropriate for most seniors.
Work Smarter to Work Harder
The dilemma of strength training is that in order for your muscles to become stronger, you have to challenge them. However, challenging them too much can result in exhaustion, soreness, and even injury. In order to build a good strength-training practice, remember these tips:
- Instead of picking up weights right away, practice your routine without weights initially. Your body weight will provide enough resistance for you to get a workout, and this will give you an opportunity to learn the moves and practice your form. Once you can consistently and confidently complete your workout without weights, you can begin to add resistance.
- When getting started, focus on form. It’s more important to do an exercise correctly than to do it quickly. Good form protects you from injury and ensures you get the maximum impact possible from your workout.
- If an exercise feels painful or too challenging, don’t give up! Instead, look for ways you can regress the move to make it easier to do. People at all fitness levels adapt exercises to meet their capabilities, so don’t feel like you aren’t working hard enough if you need to substitute or modify an exercise. The important thing is to keep going.
Strength training for seniors is a great tool for anyone looking to improve their overall fitness. Start slow, be patient and persistent, and you’ll see the results you want before you know it.
Are you planning to retire in Greenville, South Carolina? Be sure to check out The Gables on Pelham, a continuing care retirement community that welcomes seniors from all walks of life. We offer flexible and personalized care, including assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation. You’ll love our cozy accommodations, fun-filled events calendar, and welcoming community atmosphere. To learn more, please schedule a tour or give us a call at 864-713-1377.