No time to lose. Let’s get started!
Strength training requires minimal equipment and little time, yet comes with enormous benefits. Don’t let anything stop you.
People have started resistance training from all walks and times of life. Seniors up into their 90’s, older adults who are out of shape, elders who are wheelchair bound or have health problems. In fact, those who struggle with their health, often enjoy even greater benefits from a regular routine.
No matter your age, health condition, current level of fitness, or activity, you are a most likely the perfect person to start training. Everyone can reap the rewards of building strength and staying strong.
It’s recommended to train at least 2 times per week. That’s only 1 hour a week to dedicate to yourself, and we can all come up with an hour in our schedules. When you start slow and stay safe, each 30-minute routine will give you greater and greater benefits.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”
What’s So Great About Strength Training?
Glad you asked!
Going over the benefits of strength training is one of the most rewarding things to do when presenting information and research on fitness to seniors. When you begin to realize how little investment is required for such grand rewards, it’s like sharing a sacred secret…work just a little and you can play a lot more.
- Helps maintain bone density (reduces sarcopenia)
- Improves balance
- Increases coordination
- Makes mobility easier
- Leads to better, more regular, deeper, longer sleeping patterns
- Reduces depression
- Boosts confidence, self-esteem, and well-being
Strength training can also help mitigate chronic issues and several diseases…
- Arthritis: Lessens the stiffness and pain while increasing range of motion and strength
- Diabetes: Helps regulate glycemic control
- Osteoporosis: Reduces risk of fractures by building bone density
- Heart disease: Decreases your risk by improving overall fitness, along with your lipid profile
- Obesity: Speeds up metabolism which helps with longer-term weight control
- Back pain: Building core muscle strength reduces pressure and stress on vertebrae
The Defeating Assumption
Older adults often get stuck with a defeating assumption, that aging inevitably leads to a loss of vitality, energy, and strength. Society can sometimes teach that growing older and wiser also comes with frailty, and that walking for long distances, carrying groceries, or climbing the stairs will get harder and harder until all we can do is sit in a chair.
All of this can be avoided. A long, full life, where 70 is the new 50 and Strength is Ageless, is possible for us all. The muscle and bone density loss that comes with aging can be prevented and moved beyond with resistance training. In fact, it’s often referred to as “the best way” to fight weakness and frailty. “Use it or lose it,” as the saying goes.
When you get in the habit of strength training, you can preserve your strength and build upon it. You can maintain and increase independence. You can retain and boost your energy. You can break from the defeating assumptions.
“I will not let age change me. I will change the way I age.”
6 Exercises in 30 Minutes
To give you the best advice we could on the most beneficial and timely exercises, we went to an expert. Dave Lykowski, Clinical Specialist, and Senior Product Manager at HUR, has been working with the senior living population for his entire career. He’s worked both with physical therapy clients needing extensive rehabilitation, to active older adults wanting to make it to the top of their game in their 70’s and 80’s.
We asked him what he thought were the 5 best exercises for seniors in a time crunch. What he said was this…
“Start with the lower body.”
Dave says that “everybody that wants to maintain or improve their quality of life needs to challenge their lower body.” These exercises can include the…
Dave goes on to explain that he feels the lower body is most important because of the simple fact it’s relied upon for ambulation (walking). “You pick up your foot and move it a foot and a half forward.” It’s especially important for seniors and safety who want to put that foot forward “in the direction that they might fall…and they-they don’t.”
His logic makes for a sound argument. The premise behind his recommendations is this…if you’re an older-adult with some bone density and muscle loss, but you have use of your legs, you want to maintain that strength. In order to keep moving forward with balance, coordination, and the strength to do it gracefully, you need to give special attention to your lower body.
And his second recommendation was…
“Then move to the upper body.”
Again, Dave makes a convincing argument. He argues that “when an older adult gets out of bed or a chair, they’re using their chest and back, along with their arms.” When we are weaker in these motions, we put ourselves at greater risk of injury. Making sure our attention gets to the areas we rely on most for moving through the motion of our day, is exactly right.
Lastly, Dave says…
“Don’t neglect the core!”
The core muscles are what help you sit up tall and stand up straight. They’re what picks you back up when you bend down and help keep your spine erect. Dave lists them last when talking about the active older adult population simply, (and smartly), in terms of greatest gain and ultimate safety.
When you are building the new and better you, you start supporting yourself where you need it the most. In this regard, starting with the lower body, moving on the upper, and finishing with some simple core exercises, makes perfect sense.
When you throw in time as a limiting factor, you need to skip the comprehensive and go for the solid foundation. It’s always recommended to build a workout that gives attention to all your muscle groups and includes cardiovascular activity as well as stretching. The truth is, however, that we often just don’t have the time, and in 30 minutes, we can still get a heck of a lot done.
Maximum benefit, minimum time. Done.
“My strength did not come from lifting weights. My strength came from lifting myself up when I was down.”