Often people think that a gym is the place for body builders and young spirited folks. This is not necessarily true. The weight training and other equipment that a gym offers can be an advantage to people of all ages. I don’t think that a senior citizen MUST necessarily go to the gym but I do think that they must do some resistance strength exercises. Senior citizens tend to either do no exercise or use only walking as a primary form of exercise. Weight training, of course modified as per age and disease, is vital for senior citizens and I will explain here why.
Perhaps one of the best exercise recommendations for a senior citizen is to incorporate resistance exercises to strengthen muscles, maintain healthy bone mass and prevent age-related muscle loss. Strength training also increases muscle elasticity and strengthens connective tissues, tendons, and ligaments, which, from a biomechanical perspective, help hold the body in the upright position. Strength training makes everyday activities like climbing stairs and getting out of a chair easier with less risk of falling, and this freedom of movement can have a considerable impact on the quality of life. Strength training also produces a number of beneficial changes at the molecular,enzymatic, hormonal, and chemical levels in your body, helping to slow down and even reverse many of the diseases caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
The below conditions that a lot of senior citizens are plagued with can be helped by incorporating a resistance exercise or weight training program.
1) Osteoporosis in which skeletal material begins to weaken and deteriorate. Walking and light weight training can help reverse this or at least prevent it from getting worse.·
2) Arthritis- osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can impair function if proper exercise including walking, joint exercise and weight training are not included in the daily routine.·
3) Balance declines as we age often as a result of muscular strength and tone. Doing specific balance exercises along with light resisted strength exercises can help prevent falling and risk of fractures.·
4) Obesity problems can benefit with a low intensity program to reduce the risk of orthopedic injury.
5) Diabetes Type II can lead to muscle loss and hence overall weakness. Light weight training exercise can help control blood sugar enhancing quality of life.
6) Back problems can be improved with stretches and strengthening focused on the lumbar and sacral area.
Few guidelines are crucial to follow while using weight training or resisted strength training for senior citizens.
- Warm up at least 10 minutes before exercise and cool down for at least 10 minutes after exercise.
- Some soreness in the muscle belly can be expected but stop the exercise if you feel pain in your joints.
- Maintain a good upright posture during all exercises.
- Don’t hold your breath while exercising.
- Make sure you breathe on the exertion part of the exercise.
- Don’t grip your weights tightly.
- All movements should be done in a slow to moderate and deliberate manner.
- Find the right intensity when exercising for strength; if it is too much injury is likely.
- Increase the amount of weight after about two weeks of beginning strength exercises.
- You should be able to complete 2 sets of 10 repetitions in good form before increasing your weights.
- Completing each repetition in good form means using the “up for 3, pause, down for 3” count. Wait 1 to 2 minutes between each set.
- Do not progress if you are injured, have been sick, or your muscles are too sore.
- It is OK to begin with very light resistance or no resistance at all. Progress gradually and you will avoid injury and minimize soreness.
- Try exercising at least 2 to 3 times per week with at least 48 hours between training sessions.
It is possible to strength train daily by alternating major muscle groups. For example you may work your legs on Monday and arms on Tuesday.
It is a good idea to obtain professional advice though before choosing to strengthen daily.