Strength Training for Seniors

March 26, 2024

Strength Training for Seniors

Maintaining an active lifestyle is a top priority for many seniors. It encourages independence, reduces the risk of falls and promotes healthy bones, muscles and joints. In other words, staying active preserves your body's capabilities, even as you navigate changes associated with aging. Cardio, yoga and walking are some of the most common forms of exercise, but strength training can also produce positive results. 

Strength training — or resistance training — involves physical movements that cause your muscles to contract against an outside resistance, such as a medicine ball, dumbbell, resistance band or weight machine. It's commonly associated with athletes. However, seniors in Independent Living with varying strength and fitness levels can also reap the benefits of strength training to improve their health and well-being. Let's explore how. 

Benefits of Strength Training

As people age, their muscle mass and strength gradually diminish due to a condition called sarcopenia. This condition affects the musculoskeletal system, resulting in increased frailty and reduced mobility, making it difficult to perform daily tasks and increasing the likelihood of falls and injuries.

One way to improve muscle mass and strength is through strength training. At Royal Oaks, our Evergreen Fitness Center offers the equipment and instruction needed to help residents train safely and effectively. Strength training provides a variety of benefits, including:

  • Stronger bones: Placing stress on your bones with outside resistance can increase their density and reduce the risk of fractures or osteoporosis. 
  • Weight control: Strength training can aid in weight loss or management, depending on your needs. It also increases metabolism, helping you burn more calories. 
  • Chronic condition management: Chronic conditions, including back pain, heart disease, diabetes, obesity or depression, can cause symptoms affecting your health and well-being. Strength training can reduce these symptoms and help you live life more fully. 
  • Improved thinking and learning: Research suggests strength training can result in long-term cognitive benefits, improving your thinking and learning skills. This is particularly beneficial for seniors experiencing symptoms of cognitive decline.  
  • Higher quality of life: Strength training can boost your overall quality of life, enhancing your ability to accomplish more on a day-to-day basis. It can also improve sleep, making you feel more refreshed and motivated the next day. These factors combined can help you stay independent for longer.

Why More Seniors Are Turning to Strength Training

More seniors are incorporating strength training into their health and wellness routines because the physical and psychological benefits are hard to ignore. Falls and fractures are main causes of hospitalization for seniors and can drastically reduce their independence and mobility. Strength training can alleviate these concerns, helping prevent the need for daily living assistance or nursing care. 

Additionally, it leads to increased motivation and self-confidence, helping seniors lead happier, more productive lives. If you start your morning with a physical activity that makes your brain and body feel good, it may motivate you to continue engaging in mood-boosting activities throughout the day, whether it's meeting friends at The Hub to learn new technological skills or exploring our resort-style amenities.

Strength training is also a highly customizable exercise that's easy to do in the comfort of your home. Dumbbells and medicine balls come in varying weights and sizes to accommodate seniors at different strength and skill levels. Some exercises can even be done from a seated position, allowing seniors with limited mobility to also maintain their strength. You can stash your equipment in your apartment for easy access when you don't feel like venturing to the fitness center, ensuring you don't miss a day of exercise.

How Seniors Can Approach Strength Training Safely

If you're considering starting a strength training program, it's important to ease into it to avoid injuries. Consult your doctor to ensure it's safe for your health and see if they have advice or tips. Next, search for equipment and training routines that align with your strength and fitness experience. 

Select multiple exercises that target different muscle groups, so you aren't straining the same muscles each day. Aim for 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise. This should be enough to tire your muscles without causing injury. As you grow stronger, gradually increase the amount of weight and number of repetitions to match your abilities and stamina.

Giving a specific muscle group at least a full day of rest to recover is recommended. However, listen to your body and don't force it to do something it's not ready for. If your muscles are still sore after a full day, give them more time to recuperate. Additionally, don't force an exercise if it's causing pain. Stop immediately and consider reducing the weight or letting your muscles rest for a few days. 

During early days of training, you may want to consult a personal trainer or fitness specialist. Some strength training exercises require specific techniques to perform correctly, and a trainer can correct your movements to ensure safety. 

Access Personalized Strength Training at Royal Oaks

Create your own personalized strength training program at Royal Oaks. We're a Life Plan Community in Sun City, Arizona, offering Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Supportive Living. Our Fitness Supervisor and Life Plan Coach can develop a personalized fitness program tailored to your health needs and goals, helping you achieve your dream lifestyle. 

Additionally, our Evergreen Fitness Center features the latest exercise equipment and technology, with trainers available to enable safe usage. Royal Oaks is dedicated to helping seniors improve their health and well-being. Contact us today at 623-208-6621 to schedule an in-person visit and learn more about our community.

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