Many of the problems that older people have are due to weaknesses caused by inactivity rather than a chronic disease, and a physical training program can have a wide variety of benefits that aren’t just physical. Older patients may socialize more frequently, take care of themselves, get out in the community, and experience more thanks to improved confidence!
Not only do leg raises help strengthen the thigh, hip, buttocks, and lower back muscles, this type of exercise benefits balance as well. For side leg raises, stand behind a chair and hold on for better balance. Lift one leg out to the side, keeping it completely aligned from heel to hip, while maintaining a straight back and a slight bend in the supporting leg, then slowly lower the leg. For back leg raises, use the same chair for balance and slowly lift one leg behind you (without leaning forward), hold for a moment, and lower the leg. Do not bend the lifted leg or point the toes, and keep the standing leg slightly bent. For each exercise, complete two sets of at least 10 reps for each leg, alternating legs between sets.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Raise your bent legs up so that your knees are stacked over your hips, keeping a 90-degree bend in your knees. Brace your core to press your low back into the floor; make sure to maintain this flat-back position throughout the entire exercise. With your palms facing each other, bring arms up to point toward the ceiling.
In two different studies—one of men 50-70 years of age who lifted weights three times a week for 16 weeks, and the other of women 40-70 years of age who lifted twice a week for one year, bone density in the leg and back was shown to increase. There is also some evidence that walking can increase bone density in the hips and lower back, but the recommendation for frequency and intensity of the walking is not clear. What is clear is that exercise does help build or preserve bone density, and so it is recommended that we stay active for the sake of our bones and overall health.

While retirement may seem like a great time to relax and wind down, did you know the exact opposite may be much more beneficial for you if you’re a senior? It turns out that the benefits of strength training for seniors are vast, and if you’re not including some resistance work in your workout routine, then you are certainly missing out when it comes to aging gracefully!
Running: It seems like the most natural way to get into better shape. Bodies are designed to run, right? Yes, but only bodies that are young and relatively lean. For older and generally heavier bodies, the repeated impact of running can cause real damage when you begin late in life. You take more than 2,000 strides per mile, and with each one, you land with a force equivalent to three to four times your body’s weight.
Endurance decreases as we age. In one extensive study of more than 3,000 70-79-year-old men and women, researchers investigated the relationship between the speed at which these subjects walked ¼ of a mile and their risk of premature mortality, cardiovascular disease, and mobility limitation. The results showed that those with the slowest walk times (>6 minutes) had a higher risk of death, cardiovascular disease, and mobility limitation than those who walked the distance in less than four and a half minutes. In fact, every additional minute of walking time was associated with higher and higher degrees of risk; approximately 13% of the participants could not even complete the distance due to fatigue or symptoms such as breathlessness, cramping, etc.
Many of life's limitations we place on ourselves, and we can lift those limitations at any time. If you have any doubt about this, take a look at Willie Murphy, the powerlifting granny who at 77 years old can deadlift 215 pounds. Best of all, she can lift her grandchildren, shovel her own snow, and carry her own groceries with ease — and that's what it's really all about. Strength gives you the freedom to keep living life the way you want to live it, without physical limitations. As Willie says, "It's about life. L-I-F-E!"
To stretch your quadriceps, start by standing behind a chair and grabbing it with your right hand. Bend your left leg behind you and grab your foot with your left hand, making sure to keep the thigh as close to perpendicular to the floor as possible. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds or long enough that you feel the stretch in front of the bent thigh. Release the foot and repeat on the other side. The National Institute on Aging Web site features other great stretches for the lower body, including the hamstring and calf muscles.
Stretches are also important exercises for seniors. They help improve flexibility, making it easier for an older person to remain physically active and move around without stiffness and pain. Additionally, stretching exercises help senior citizens avoid muscle-related injuries, which can occur in the course of exercising as well as during daily living.
Stretches are also important exercises for seniors. They help improve flexibility, making it easier for an older person to remain physically active and move around without stiffness and pain. Additionally, stretching exercises help senior citizens avoid muscle-related injuries, which can occur in the course of exercising as well as during daily living.
As you age, you may notice the tendency to be able to do less and less on your own. But, things don’t have to be that way. If you can learn to strengthen your muscles through resistance training, and you can apply that training in a way that mimics the movements you make on a daily basis and that mirrors the activities you enjoy, you will be better able to continue a normal lifestyle as you age.
Endurance decreases as we age. In one extensive study of more than 3,000 70-79-year-old men and women, researchers investigated the relationship between the speed at which these subjects walked ¼ of a mile and their risk of premature mortality, cardiovascular disease, and mobility limitation. The results showed that those with the slowest walk times (>6 minutes) had a higher risk of death, cardiovascular disease, and mobility limitation than those who walked the distance in less than four and a half minutes. In fact, every additional minute of walking time was associated with higher and higher degrees of risk; approximately 13% of the participants could not even complete the distance due to fatigue or symptoms such as breathlessness, cramping, etc.
Adding resistance with light weights or elastic bands helps develop muscle mass and upper body strength. Sit (or stand) with feet flat on the floor and hold weights at shoulder height with palms facing forward, then lift the weights above your head. Other beneficial exercises for upper body strength include side arm raises — hold weights at your sides, palms inward, and raise your arms out to the sides — and front arm raises — hold weights at your sides, palms down, and raise arms to shoulder height. Aim for two sets of at least 10 reps for each of these three exercises.
Yes, some seniors can be frail and have low energy reserves but most of us will respond well to moderate sessions of weight training. Numerous studies have shown that strength training for seniors and other exercises for seniors done regularly not only builds up bone and muscle but counteracts the weakness and frailty that usually comes with aging.
You guessed it. It decreases. The good news is that some studies, but not all, show improvements in flexibility when individuals engage in exercise programs that involve stretching exercises. Unfortunately, the studies on flexibility in the aging population aren't as complete as they are for studies of strength and endurance, but the studies do suggest that significant improvements in the range of motion of various joints (neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle) can occur when stretching exercises are prescribed. It's just that it isn't clear how much flexibility training older adults should do to maintain good range of motion and joint function.
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