How can senior strength training improve our bodies?

It’s something we hear consistently in the news, from our healthcare professionals and through adverts online and in newspapers – exercising is always good for our minds and bodies! Staying active as much as possible will only benefit our health and well-being and could even prolong our lives – according to some experts. But for many of us who hit a certain age or time in our lives, we naturally start to slow down and become less active. Whether that’s because of mobility issues or aches and pains that we deal with daily. Advantage Physio is here to tell you, however, that it’s never too late to start your strength training, no matter your age or physical abilities. 

Regular exercise and strength training can help us with our muscles and could even support us in managing pain and illness symptoms that become more apparent as we age. Cardiovascular diseases such as stroke or heart failure and neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s and MND, can be reduced when we adopt a healthy exercise routine that is relative to our abilities and lifestyle. 

Common strength concerns as we get older

As we age, we are more likely to notice that our bodies are not as strong as they used to be. Whether we are waking up with aches and pains that weren’t there before or we are facing health-related issues that are new to us, getting older can be a challenge in itself! For this reason, even smaller amounts of exercise can make a big difference to your health, strength and general well-being. 

What happens to our strength as we age?

As we get older, our muscle mass begins to deteriorate, and this is why we will often see a decrease in our strength, abilities and day-to-day function. Our bones may shrink, leaving them slightly weaker and more susceptible to fractures and breaks. One thing many of us notice as we age is our ability to balance and stay stable becomes a little more difficult. What we once did without thinking now requires a little more time and concentration. 

Improve your physical and mental health with strength training

Not only can strength training help improve your physical strength and balance, but it could also help to improve your mood and mental health. Take a look at some of the examples of strength training below.

Exercises that could help improve your strength and mobility 

Jogging – if you have never jogged before, we recommend building your strength up to this exercise. If you are unsure of your mobility or you are worried that you may have a fall whilst you are exercising, don’t do anything you are uncomfortable with. Jogging doesn’t have to mean getting out of the house – you can simply jog on the spot whilst listening to your favourite program on the television. 

Upper body exercises – if you have found you are losing strength in your arms and upper body, why not focus on this area? Lift some small weights at home, punch out in front of you with one arm at a time using a steady rhythm, or raise your arms above your head to keep those muscles warm. 

Knee raises – improving your lower body muscles may help with your balance and mobility. Keep those legs moving, raise your knees in a gentle way up to your hip height (one at a time) and repeat this for a minute. This will also help you to maintain a tight set of core muscles in your stomach that help to keep your balance. 

Chair exercises – you don’t have to be up and running around a park to get your exercise in! Stay in a position that is comfortable for you and your mobility. If that means sitting in a chair with a good posture and lifting your arms and legs in a repetitive pattern, you will still improve your muscle mass in time.  

Staying safe whilst you exercise

As with anyone of any age undertaking an exercise routine, it’s important to be aware of what your body is able to do safely and what you should avoid. Whether you are just starting out on your strength training routine or you have been exercising for a long period of time, we recommend devoting at least 10 minutes of your time in the beginning to a good warm-up and 10 minutes of time at the end of your routine to cool down. This will help to prepare your muscles and bones for the routine you are about to complete and will reduce your likelihood of injury or stiffness in the days that follow. 

Whilst soreness and stretching can often be a sign that you are working your muscles, if you feel any pain or discomfort in your joints during your strength training routine, stop what you are doing and take some time to rest. This could be your body telling you that you are asking too much! Keep an even breath throughout your exercise routine, and do not hold your breath. This could make your strength training harder and leave you feeling unwell and dizzy! 

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Advantage Physiotherapy supports clients of all ages to stay healthy!

If you are starting to age gracefully and notice you are not able to do as much as you used to be able to do, it may be time to seek some extra support to help you maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. The qualified physiotherapists and wider team at Advantage Physiotherapy are here to support you in remaining active, healthy and, most importantly, comfortable. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you with strength training, get in touch or book a consultation with a member of the team.