When most people think about building muscles and strength training they don’t tend to think of the older adults. Yet senior strength training has many benefits. It can help improve overall well-being, and help to manage chronic conditions and boost stamina, among other things. Getting your parents involved in strength-training activities is a great way to help improve their health and bolster their longevity.
Why strength training for the elderly
According to the North American Spine Society, studies show that even 90-year-old nursing home patients benefit from strength-building exercises. They also report that some of the benefits of strength training for the elderly include:
- Improving Balance. An improvement in overall balance is important when it comes to preventing falls that can lead to hip fractures. It’s easy to test to see if the hip muscles need strengthening: Have your parent try to get out of a chair without using his or her hands or arms. If the arms or hands are needed to get up, then strengthening in the hips is needed.
- Improving Response Time. Muscles that are more toned and defined are quicker to respond and can help to prevent falls.
- Reducing Risks. Exercises that use weights help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Strength training helps to build bone density.
- Improving Well-Being. Most people have a better quality of life and can enjoy more independence when they are stronger. It can also help improve mobility and coordination.
- Fight Disease. Strength-training seniors benefit when fighting and managing disease and illnesses, such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity, and back pain. It also helps people to sleep better, reduce depression and improve self-confidence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strength training for older adults can help them maintain their independence and ability to perform daily life activities. Additionally, strength training for older adults takes very little time and doesn’t require a lot of fancy equipment.
Elderly strength training
Joining a gym is a good way to engage in strength training. But people don’t have to belong to a gym to reap the benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, muscle mass diminishes with age. People can build and strengthen it by engaging in activities such as:
- Using their body weight by doing such things as abdominal crunches, leg squats, pull-ups and push-ups.
- Using resistance tubes, which are lightweight and inexpensive. They are sold at sporting good stores and work by providing resistance as they are stretched.
- Using free weights, such as dumbbells and barbells, or homemade weights, such as bottles filled with sand.
- Using weight machines either at gyms or purchasing one for home use.
Elderly strength-training programs are an important part of healthy aging. Parents can benefit from strength training programs that engage them 20 to 30 minutes at a time for three sessions per week. And, as always, it is good to check with the doctor to make sure there are no concerns before your parent gets started.