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The Top 5 Exercises Every Senior Should Do To Improve Their Strength Safely

woman strength training with weights

Staying physically active is one of the greatest gifts you can offer yourself as you get older. Exercise lowers your risk of early death, cardiovascular disease, stroke, some types of cancer, falls and depression. Any physical activity can be beneficial, but as you consider your fitness options, don’t forget the importance of strength training. Strength exercises for seniors can be a simple but effective way to maintain muscle strength, slow bone loss, and boost energy levels so you can continue to enjoy an active and rewarding lifestyle.

Strength Training 101

Access to a gym or specialized equipment, while nice, isn’t necessary. Body-weight exercises are a convenient strength training option that you can do almost anywhere. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 2 or more days a week of strength training exercises for seniors. Be sure to opt for variety in your routine so you can work all major muscle groups — legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms. For each exercise, build up to doing 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps each. Of course, if you have joint pain, a surgically replaced joint or high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program.

Here are 5 strength training exercises for seniors to include in their regular fitness routine:

Exercise #1: Sit to Stand

To strengthen your lower body and core:

Stand with a chair behind you and your feet hip-width apart. Keeping your chest up, push your hips back, bend your knees and lower yourself to a sitting position on the chair. To rise, push through your feet and legs, straightening your knees until you’re standing. If your chair is too low, place a cushion on the seat to make the exercise easier for now. To keep pressure off your knees, try to keep your weight on your heels rather than your toes. If balance is an issue, place a chair in front of you so you have something to hold on to.

Exercise #2: Wall Push-Ups

To improve strength in your upper body, especially in your arms and chest:

Stand facing a wall, about two feet away for maximum strength-building, closer to make the exercise easier. Put your hands against the wall at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows until your chest is close to the wall without touching it. Pause and then slowly straighten your arms.

Exercise #3: Quadruped Opposite Arm/Leg Raise

To improve balance, coordination, and strength in your back and abdominals:

Lower yourself to all fours, placing your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keep your back straight as you extend one arm to reach in front of you and extend the opposite leg behind you. Hold for a count of three, or for as long as you can keep your balance. Repeat  with the opposite arm and leg.

Exercise #4: Wall Angels

To improve posture by stretching and strengthening the muscles in your chest, shoulders:

Stand with your back to a wall, tucking your chin and pressing your low back against the wall. Bend your elbows and bring the backs of your hands up to touch the wall at head level. Slide your hands up the wall until your elbows are almost straight (or as straight as is comfortable). Slide your hands down to starting posture and repeat. Remember to keep your chin tucked and your back flat against the wall.

Exercise #5: Dead Bugs

To improve balance and core strength:

Lie on your back with your arms and legs in the air, knees bent. Pressing your low back into the floor, straighten one leg as you lower it to the floor while lowering the opposite arm over your head. Bring your heel and hand close to the floor without touching it, and then return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.

A Whole-Person Approach to Wellness

Physical well-being is one of eight dimensions of wellness that make up the philosophy of health at Westminster. Aqua classes, Pilates, and dance classes are just a few of the offerings that give residents a chance to stay physically strong and fit. Contact us to learn more about Westminster and our holistic approach to senior independent living.