Strength training over 60 might sound too tiring for the aged crowd, but there are great health benefits exercise can provide. To know what they are, keep reading.
In this article:
- What Is Strength Training?
- Strength Training When You’re Over 60 Is Effective and Safe
- Benefits of Strength Training for Seniors
- Strength Training Exercises You Can Try
Benefits of Strength Training for People Over 60 You Should Know
What Is Strength Training?
Before we discuss the benefits of strength training for adults over 60, let’s first learn what this type of physical activity is all about. Strength training is a type of workout focusing on resistance to promote muscular contraction, build the size of skeletal muscles, and increase anaerobic endurance and strength.
Typically, the training involves the technique of progressively increasing the muscle force output through the use of various equipment targeting specific muscle groups or by adding more weights as the training progresses.
Strength Training When You’re Over 60 Is Effective and Safe
Most folks understand the benefits of a daily aerobic workout such as brisk walking, bicycling, or swimming. But, you may be missing a critical fitness component if you skip strength training.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strengthening exercises are both safe and effective for women and men of all ages, including those who are not in perfect health. In fact, people with health concerns—including heart disease or arthritis—often benefit the most from an exercise program that includes lifting weights a few times each week.
Benefits of Strength Training for Seniors
1. Arthritis Relief
Tufts University recently conducted a strength-training regime with older men and women with moderate-to-severe knee osteoarthritis. After 16 weeks, the subjects reported their pain decreased by 43%.
What’s more, they increased muscle strength and general physical performance and decreased disability. Similar effects were found in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis.
2. Better Balance
As we age, poor balance and flexibility can be the perfect storm for debilitating falls. But, strengthening exercises or senior workouts can increase your flexibility and balance and decrease your chance of life-changing falls with their resulting bone fractures.
One study in New Zealand in women 80 years of age and older showed a 40% reduction in falls with simple strength and balance training.
3. Healthy Heart Tissue
Strength training over 60 is key for cardiac health because heart disease risk is lower when your body is leaner. In fact, one study found that cardiac patients gained not only strength but also aerobic capacity when they included strength training in their rehab program.
4. Fat Burning
Those who strength train burn more calories and lose more weight than their non-weight training friends. That’s because after each workout, your muscles demand energy to mend fibers.
According to the CDC, strength training can provide up to a 15% increase in your metabolic rate, which is very helpful in the battle of the bulge.
5. Improvement in Muscle Mass and Quality
Strength training for senior citizens primarily aids in increasing and improving muscle mass as it allows your muscles to work against a force or weight. As you age, your muscles start to weaken or you experience muscle loss, and the training helps build muscle back first.
As the program progresses, your muscles start getting stronger, giving you better muscle stability despite aging. The quality of your muscles improves, too, because you enhance your muscles with the right training program, not forcing it.
6. Boost in Muscle Endurance and Strength
Strength and endurance usually work hand in hand, and whenever you improve strength, endurance usually follows. Strength training when you’re over 60 targets a specific group of muscles.
Once you achieve strength, you slowly transition to building or enhancing your muscle endurance. This allows you to perform your training for longer periods without getting tired or feeling exhausted.
Gradual progress in muscle training under this program can help you achieve both muscle strength and endurance.
7. Enhanced Metabolism
Increasing muscle mass boosts metabolism.
If your body starts to build strength, it loses weight because it uses the extra fat or calories to fuel your workout. This results in increased metabolic function, a compensatory mechanism for the demands of your physical workout.
Because you will perform regular resistance exercise, which increases your metabolism, your metabolic function automatically adjusts to the “regular” demands of the workout.
8. Improved Brain Health
One study revealed weight lifting in rats showed a build-up in strength and a positive change in the cellular environment of their brain, enhancing the ability to think.
Your brain health starts to decline as you age, and your way of thinking and memory start to weaken. This is the reason why performing strength training can be vital to your brain health.
9. Blood Sugar Control
Unhealthy blood sugar levels can lead to type II diabetes. Strength training when you’re over 60 can better regulate your blood sugar levels.
Because the program promotes fat burning and weight loss, it aids in keeping your blood sugar in check. As you increase your strength under the program, the ability of your muscles to store glucose also increases, allowing you to regulate a healthy blood sugar level.
The program also helps decrease your fat-to-muscle ratio, which lowers the insulin levels needed for energy storage in your fat cells.
Strength Training Exercises You Can Try
Now that you know the many benefits of strength training for people over 60, it’s time you learn strength exercises you can try.
1. Seated Rotations
This exercise allows all your torso muscles to work, including your back and abs, which makes your upper body stronger. To do the workout, follow these steps:
- Secure a chair with a flat seat and sit tall on it.
- Hold a medicine ball or weight (8-15 pounds for men and 5-8 pounds for women).
- Hold the ball or weight at your chest level, with elbows out sideways and shoulders relaxed.
- Keep your knees and hips facing forward while you rotate your torso to your right as far as you can.
- Make sure you squeeze the muscles in your waist area.
- Rotate back to your starting position and do the same to your left. Make sure you achieve a controlled and slow movement.
- Alternate the sides for 12 repetitions, and you can do another set if you can.
2. Lateral Raises
Lateral raises make your body work on shoulder muscles, which you use when you lift or put something above your shoulder level. Follow these steps to do the workout:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hold free weights in both hands (5-12 pounds for men and 3-8 pounds for women).
- Slightly bend your elbows and keep your wrists straight.
- Raise your arms up to your sides.
- Stop on your shoulder level with palms facing the ground.
- Lower your hands back down and do this in 12 reps.
- You can do another set if you wish to.
3. Wall Push-Up
Push-ups let you work your upper body, and this one will let you ease into push-ups through the use of a wall instead of the floor. Here is how you perform it:
- Stand a few feet away from the wall with your abs in and back flat.
- Position your hands on the wall at the level of your chest but wider than your shoulders.
- Slowly bend your elbows while you lower your body towards the wall. Stop if your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
- Push back and repeat.
- Repeat for 12 reps, and you can do another round if you wish to.
Note: The farther you stand from the wall, the harder this workout gets.
This workout strengthens your knee muscles.
Note: If you have knee issues or injury, this exercise is not recommended.
Follow these steps:
- Do this exercise on a staircase. Stand at the bottom step.
- Take a step with your right foot.
- Bring your left foot next to your right.
- Step back down. You can hold onto the rail.
- Your right foot should be on the step as you step up and down with your left foot.
- Do 12 reps and then do the same for your other foot.
5. Hamstring Curls
This exercise routine works the muscles supporting the knees.
- Use a chair for balance and stand in front of it while holding it.
- Bend one knee and bring your foot behind your butt, like you’re kicking it.
- Keep your knee pointing towards the ground.
- Slowly lower it back down. Do this in 12 reps.
- Do the same with your other leg.
Strength training when you’re over 60 is a helpful way to restore your strength, balance, stability, and endurance. The benefits of the program go beyond improving your bones and muscles as it also provides wellness with your overall health and well-being.
You can do the senior exercise routines mentioned above or consult your physician on which exercises suit you best to keep you healthy and strong.
Are you over 60 years old? Do you workout? What routines do you do?
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 14, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.