Simple exercises for elderly to strengthen muscles
Strength training, yoga, tai chi, and resistance band exercises are great exercises for seniors to strengthen their muscles, improve heart health, and maintain active cognitive functions.
It’s a constant refrain from health experts: consistent exercise is better for one’s body than medication, at any age. A medical survey found that exercise’s effects were at par with drugs for diabetes and heart disease; and more effective than drugs as therapy for stroke.1
Exercise is also known to strengthen the immune and skeletal systems, improve heart health, and help our cognitive functions active. The more one exercises, the easier it is to go about one’s daily activities and lead independent lives – thus, maintaining an active lifestyle becomes more important as we age.
For instance, seniors commonly experience a reduction in muscle strength. Muscle loss happens as we age, and one of the best ways to maintain our muscles is through exercise.
As we get older, we need to make sure that we're doing the right kinds of exercise. Our ageing bodies have different needs compared to when we were younger. Therefore, it's crucial to choose the exercises and activities that meet these needs. Here are some simple exercises that help to strengthen our muscles.
Strength exercises work your muscles and keep them strong. Examples include push-ups, sit-ups and assisted chin-ups. Working out with dumbbells also strengthens your muscles. Plus, they improve balance and flexibility.
Incorporate strength training into your exercise routine at least twice a week for best results.
It's a common sight in Singapore, especially during the early hours of the morning – clusters of seniors practicing tai chi. There's a reason it's so popular among this age group: because it meets the health needs of seniors.
Tai chi improves upper and lower body strength. It's also good for the core muscles in the back and abdomen areas. And it improves balance and flexibility, which is important for seniors. The social element of doing it together with a group is beneficial for mental health too.
Yoga isn't just for young people dressed in trendy activewear. Because it's a low-intensity form of exercise, it's suitable for most seniors. Yoga will improve muscle strength, and it's also beneficial if you long for better sleep and want to be more flexible without working too hard.
Chair yoga is especially suitable for seniors. The exercises improve muscle strength, flexibility, balance and mobility. Plus, it takes less of a toll on muscles and joints compared to other forms of yoga as it's even more low-impact.
Resistance band training
Resistance bands reduce the stress on your body while you're exercising. You'll strengthen your muscles with less strain on your joints. They're inexpensive to buy and easy to store, which means you can use them in your home workouts.
Get advice from a personal trainer, or search online for the best type of exercises with resistance bands suitable for your age and health status.
Essential exercise tips
Before getting started on any of these exercises, follow these exercise tips for seniors:
- Visit the doctor before you start any exercise and discuss your plans with them. This is especially important if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.
- Get the appropriate workout clothing. The right shoes are essential to maintain balance and reduce the risk of injury.
- Start easy and build your exercise routine bit by bit. Also, start slow at the beginning of every exercise session. The aim here is not to over-exert yourself from the start.
- Spend time on warming up and cooling down. Your body needs more time to recover and heal, so give it the time it needs.
- Stop if you feel dizzy, have chest pains, any pain in your joints, or experience shortness of breath.
Pair a vigorous exercise regimen with a healthy diet packed with healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. If your nutritional needs aren’t being met by your present diet, try supplementing with nutritional drinks like Enercal® Plus.
This beverage provides you with the nutrients you need as a senior, as part of a balanced diet. It also supports immunity, thanks to its healthy levels of Iron, Zinc, Vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D – combined with exercise, it can go a long way in helping you stay in the peak of health!