Losing strength is a natural part of the ageing process; consequently, growing weaker and more fragile can often leave seniors feeling frustrated or sad as carrying out menial tasks can become more difficult. However, while slowing down is inevitable as we grow older, research has shown that performing strengthening exercises is a great way for seniors to not only become stronger but to increase their overall muscular endurance levels. This means that actions and movements can then be repeated far less arduously, enabling retirees to do more without becoming tired. In the final part of our Senior Exercise Series, we’ve put together a guide to strengthening exercises to help you get stronger:
What are the Benefits of Strengthening Exercises?
Unsurprisingly, the main benefit of performing strengthening exercises is that your body will become stronger. Not only will muscle start to build up from the onset of performing these exercises, but your bone will also be strengthened. This means you will be less likely to experience conditions such as Osteoporosis, whereby you are more prone to breakages or fractures as the result of brittle bones.
Small Changes Make Big Differences
Every bit of muscle growth will make a big difference to your strength, especially if you have previously lost muscle, perhaps as the result of an illness or an extended stay in hospital. Consequently, by performing strengthening exercises between two-three times a week, your muscles and bone will begin to grow stronger and you should notice a positive difference when doing particular things, e.g. climbing stairs.
Before starting your journey to becoming stronger, you should advise your doctor of your intentions to perform these exercises; if you have a certain health condition, they may advise you against it. Alternatively, they may be able to provide advice on which strengthening exercises would be best for you, helping you tailor your regime for the best results. If you’ve had a health check, start by trying the four strengthening exercises below to get you started:
Sit to Stand
To perform the sit to stand exercise, start by sitting on the edge of a backed chair with your feet apart and level with the chair legs. Then, lean forward and slowly stand up, using only your legs to lift you up and keeping your arms down by your sides. While moving, keep your head straight and try not to look down. Once you are standing fully upright, return to your starting position by sitting down slowly. Repeat this movement between five-eight times, making sure you perform the exercise slowly to help you stay balanced.
Calf raises can be done again with the support of a sturdy chair. Begin this exercise by placing your hands on top of the back of the chair. Then, slowly stand on your tiptoes, lifting both heels above the floor and placing them back down on the ground after a few seconds of hovering. Repeat this motion between five-eight times and to increase the difficulty, remove the chair and perform the exercise standing alone. Calf raises are particularly good for strengthening leg muscles and can help you stay on your feet for longer.
Wall Press Ups
To perform wall press ups, stand at arm’s length facing a wall. Then, place your arms straight out in front of you with your hands against the wall. Keeping your back straight, gently lean forward and bend your arms outwards, moving as close to the wall as possible. Once you have reached your limit, use your arms to push yourself back into your starting position. Perform this exercise in three sets, repeating the process five-eight times in each set.
To do bicep curls, you’ll need a light pair of weights. If you do not own a pair of weights, you can use two filled water bottles instead. To begin, stand with your feet apart and a weight in each hand. Then, stretch your arms down straight and begin to lift the weight upwards, moving only the lower part of your arm and using your elbows to bend your hands up to your shoulders. Then, retract your elbows until your arms are back down by your sides. Perform this exercise in three sets with three-five curls in each set. Doing bicep curls can help strengthen the muscles in the top of your arms, making it easier for you to lift things with your upper body.
Any exercise for seniors is positive; however, performing a variety of strengthening exercises on a regular basis can help make a huge difference to your strength, helping you carry out day-to-day activities with less difficulty and ultimately, making you feel more independent. Check out the rest of our Senior Exercise Series to discover more great exercises, or to find out more about fitness and health, visit our dedicated health page.