The Benefits of Strength Training for Senior Adults

The fresh beginning of a new year is the perfect time to commit to a new routine. Incorporating simple strength training exercises into your daily schedule is a healthy way to get your year started on the right track. No matter your age, you are never too old to start exercising. In fact, exercising is more important the older you get.

What is strength training?

Strength training, also known as resistance training or weight training, consists of simple exercises, performed in sets using either just your body weight or small weights. As the name suggests, it helps build your strength by improving muscle quality.

Physical Benefits of Strength Training

The physical benefits of consistent strength training might seem obvious, like getting in shape and building your endurance. Both of these are true, but looking into the details of what strength training can do for your physical health can be huge motivators in incorporating it into your daily life.

Strength training builds a healthy bone mass, helps prevent muscle loss (you lose 1-2 % of muscle strength per year, after turning 50), and strengthens connective tissues, tendons, and ligaments. It boosts your overall quality of life by improving balance, coordination, and strength. Regular strength training:

  • Increases your ability to perform ADLs,

Senior adults who incorporate strength training into their life are more autonomous and successful at completing their activities of daily living (ADLs). Finding independence through strength training also has mental health benefits like increased confidence and a feeling of purpose.

  • Reduces your chances of falling,

Many senior adults are fearful of exercise because they are afraid of fall risk, which can cause serious damage resulting in surgery and weeks of therapy. However, strength training will improve your balance and make your bones stronger. With improved balance, you are less likely to fall unexpectedly, and with stronger bones, if you do fall, your body and your bones will be much more durable, making potential injuries less severe.

  • And can prevent disease. Regular strength training can prevent, and in some cases, reverse diseases like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and obesity.

Mental Benefits of Strength Training

It doesn’t matter if you are young or in your golden years, exercising has proven mental benefits for everyone. Here are a few of the many mental health benefits of strength and resistance training:

  • Reduced stress. Exercise produces endorphins. Endorphins act as stress relievers and can also improve sleep. It is common for senior adults to experience insomnia, and regular exercise can do wonders for your sleep quality.
  • Increased happiness. Not only do endorphins act as stress relievers, but they also lower your risk/symptoms of depression. Exercise is not a cure for depression, but it is a huge help in improving your quality of life. Even if you do not suffer from depression, endorphins lower your risk of falling into depression and make you a happier person in general.
  • Lower risk of dementia and Alzheimers. Not only does exercise keep your body active, but it also keeps your brain active. An active brain is tied to a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimers.  

Tips for Safe Strength Training

Are you ready to experience the physical and mental benefits of strength training? Here are some tips to help get you started.

  • Check with your doctor.

Before beginning any new exercise activities, it is critical that you first check with your doctor.

  • Start slow.

Our biggest tip is to start slow and not do more than you can handle, starting out. Until you start to feel your endurance and strength increasing, avoid weights and practice bodyweight exercises.. No matter how intense you start out, you won’t get results overnight. It’s better to start slow and see gradual results, than start with hard workouts that can cause damage.

Some great moves you can try that only require bodyweight are squats, lunges, pushups, and crunches.

  • Work out 2-3 days a week.

While strength training might become something that you happily incorporate into your daily routine, it’s best to start with exercising 2-3 nonconsecutive days a week. This gives time for your body to rest and recover and will also help you avoid burnout.

  • Exercise with friends.

Do you have any friends or family members who would be interested in group strength training? If you live in an assisted living community, are there group classes or a gym? Exercising with friends not only gives you accountability for staying consistent but also makes working out more fun for everyone!

  • Believe in yourself.

A lot of the time we place life’s limitations on ourselves. Have confidence in your abilities and give strength training or weight training a try. Even if you feel out of shape and are huffing and puffing throughout your workout, keeping going. You’ll feel better at the end of the day knowing that you put in the effort!

We understand the idea of strength training can be intimidating, especially if you feel you are out of shape or are afraid of injuring yourself. The reality is, you’ve got this! Start small and have confidence in yourself and your abilities. Your body is stronger and more capable than you might think.

To learn more about fitness at Culpepper Place, contact us.