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Strength Training for Older Adults

Lifting weights isn’t just for youthful bodybuilders. Strength training can be beneficial for older adults, improving overall health and quality of living.

As you get older, you may find that simple actions like climbing up stairs, lifting and bending, are increasingly difficult and taxing on your body. At Fairfield Physiotherapy we often see older patients who suffer from daily aches and pains, loss of mobility, stability and flexibility. This is because we lose 3-5% of muscle mass each decade after the age of 30. Consistent weight training can help you regain your strength in order to counter the natural effects of time.

Not only will strength training help you perform your daily tasks with greater ease, it can also help to prevent injuries and falls, which can be increasingly dangerous later in life. Strength training can also help prevent and manage a variety of health problems that are common amongst seniors, including osteoporosis, type II diabetes and pulmonary disease.

The type and intensity of your training program depends on your current body condition along with your fitness and health goals. You should also take into consideration pre-existing conditions, like arthritis, that may limit your movement.

Some simple exercises include;

Sit to Stand:

This exercise is designed to help improve your leg strength and stability. Start by sitting on a chair with your arms either extended in front of you or crossed against your chest. Stand up then sit back down. If you find it difficult to complete the exercise safely, use your hands to support you as you stand up. If you would like to increase the difficulty of the exercise, use a lower chair.

Calf Raise:

This exercise also strengthens the lower body and helps with strength/stability while on your feet. Hold the back of a chair or a bench and lift your heels off the ground so that you are on your toes, then slowly lower back down again.

Arm/Biceps Curls:

Given these are some of the arm muscles we use most in everyday life, strengthening them can make our day to day activities easier. While holding a small to moderate weight, position yourself with palms facing forward and hands by your side. Bend your elbow to touch your hand to the front of your shoulder. If you can manage this exercise is best done in standing rather than sitting.

Overhead Raise:

Reaching overhead can become harder as we age so this is designed to maintain strength in upper ranges. Stand with your arms by your waist and slowly lift your arms forward and overhead as far as you can manage before lowering them.

Leg Kicks in Sitting:

To build leg muscle strength sit up straight with your thigh supported on the seat. Straighten your leg, lifting your foot towards the ceiling, hold for 2 seconds then slowly lower down. The video shows doing this with an ankle weight which is a good progression if your muscles are ready for the challenge.

Hip Swings:

This exercise helps with strengthening the hips and increasing balance/stability while on your feet. Stand up straight holding the back of a chair or the bench. Lift one leg off the ground and slowly swing the leg outwards towards the side then back inwards. You can also swing your leg backwards for another variation of the exercise. Feel free to use ankle weights to increase the difficulty.

It’s never too late to hit the gym. For deconditioning and more advice on strength training for older adults, book an appointment online or contact Fairfield Physiotherapy on 94897744.