Muscles shrink as you age. So, keeping your muscles strong and even building muscle strength as you grow older is essential. Strong muscles improve balance and reduce the risk of falls. And they can help reduce and relieve pain.
More good news! You don’t have to lift weights to increase your muscle strength. There are many other ways to effectively build strength and improve endurance, even if you haven’t been active in years. You might even have some fun doing it!
Muscle-building exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Walking every day has been shown to deliver several benefits to older individuals. Walking daily can reduce the risk of heart disease by 30-50%. It also naturally lowers blood sugar and can reduce pain by lubricating joints. Plus, walking improves mental health, boosts mood, and encourages social interaction. Research shows that seniors who walk regularly get sick less often. And it is perfect if you are on a tight budget because walking is free! Start slowly and gradually increase your speed and distance.
Try using wrist or ankle weights for an enhanced physical workout while walking. Wrist and ankle weights strengthen your body’s muscles by adding a small amount of extra weight to each arm and leg. Using light weights prevents stress and damage to the aging-sensitive body. Attach the weights to your wrist or ankle with the straps before heading out on your walk or even while doing activities around the house.
Hop on an Elliptical Bike
Elliptical bikes build muscles but do not apply harmful pressure to joints that other exercises like running do. And unlike a treadmill, an elliptical bike does not put as much pressure on the knees. So, it’s an excellent choice for seniors with an increased risk of joint damage. Riding an elliptical bike also strengthens your heart and lungs and burns fat for weight loss.
Chair exercises are a sound option for seniors struggling with balance or recovering from surgery and other health issues. These exercises work on gently stretching and strengthening muscles while seated or by using the chair for balance. Exercises may include weights or use your body’s resistance. Find classes online or even in person.
Do Some Simple Squats
Squats are one of the best exercises for aging seniors. They increase lower body strength, which helps with simple daily tasks like climbing stairs and retrieving things off the floor. Start by standing directly in front of a solid chair with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees as you slowly lower yourself towards the chair, ensuring your knees do not extend beyond your toes. Squats can be held or repeated. Use the chair for support if you need it.
Practicing yoga is another proven way to strengthen muscles. Additionally, the time on your mat can reduce stress and improve balance. Finding local classes is a helpful way to learn and meet new people. You can also do poses at home with a guidebook or follow instructors with online videos.
Swimming is another muscle-building activity without resistance. The low-impact exercise also increases flexibility, improves stability, and promotes cardiovascular health. Seniors can swim laps and use kickboards, noodles, or other props for assistance. Many communities also have water aerobics classes, a social way to participate in low-impact cardio exercise.
When it comes to fitness, results and abilities vary for every individual. Be sure to consult your doctor before you start any new exercise program. Plus, it’s essential to warm up before you start and cool down when you stop to avoid injuries. Make healthy food choices and seek out a personal trainer if you do not see the results you expect. Your muscles will thank you for it!