The phrase “strength training” isn’t one that usually brings senior citizens to mind. However, it should. This form of exercise can be extremely beneficial for seniors because it can help to build muscle mass, improve flexibility, increase bone mass and density, and reduce pain among other things – all of which are problems facing us as we age. It can be difficult to figure out how to get started. Here are 3 exercises you or your loved one can start implementing every day:
- Chair leg-raises –strengthens your leg, back, and stomach muscles.
Sit in a chair with your shoulders tall and your back as straight as possible. Gently grip both sides of the chair with your hands on either side of your waist. Extend your feet out in front of you as far as possible so that only your heels touch the ground. Slowly raise your legs so they are parallel with the floor. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 5-10 times.
*You can make this move a little harder by loosening your grip on the chair and letting your arms hang at your sides.
- Half wall sit – strengthens leg, buttock, and stomach muscles
Stand 6-8 inches away from the wall with both feet firmly planted, a shoulder’s length apart. Slowly bend your knees as though you were about to sit on an invisible chair. Rest your back flat against the wall. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and repeat.
*You can make this move a little harder by standing further from the wall and trying to lower yourself so your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Pectoral Press – this works your chest, arm, and back muscles.
Stand or sit for this exercise. Grab two identical cans of soup or beans or whatever is lying around your pantry. Hold one can in each hand and raise your arms up like a goalpost so that your thumbs are beside each ear and the bottoms of your upper arms are running parallel to the floor. Slowly swing your arms inward so that both forearms touch. Repeat 5-10 times.
*You can make this move a little harder by using heavier cans.
Always remember to go at your own pace and not to push yourself. Many times, those who were very fit or strong when they were younger are more adamant about proving to themselves that they can still do as much as they used to. It is important not to get too competitive with yourself. Listen to your body and stop when you need to. It is always possible that pushing too hard can lead to injury and it’s important to strengthen your muscles without hurting them.