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.
Strength training is a type of physical exercises specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction. They help build strength, endurance, and size of muscles. In other words, it’s a method of improving muscular strength by gradually increasing the ability to resist force through the use of free weights, machines, or the person’s own body weight.
Remember to push your buttocks out as you bend to maintain a straight back posture, and do not bend your knees past your toes. Once you're comfortable with that, try doing a half squat against a wall. This can be a more challenging move — especially if you get all the way into a seated position — so you may want to make sure you have someone there to assist you.
On any matter relating to your health or well-being, please check with an appropriate health professional. No statement herein is to be construed as a diagnosis, treatment, preventative, or cure for any disease, disorder or abnormal physical state. The statements herein have not been evaluated by the Foods and Drugs Administration or Health Canada. Dr. Marchione and the doctors on the Bel Marra Health Editorial Team are compensated by Bel Marra Health for their work in creating content, consulting along with formulating and endorsing products.
Building muscle mass and focusing on better balance can help reduce the risk of falls and broken bones. A good balance exercise for older adults is the chair stand: Start in a seated position in an armless chair. Keeping your back and shoulders straight, extend your arms parallel to the ground and slowly stand up, without using your hands. Sit down and repeat the move 10 to 15 times, rest, and then complete another set of 10 to 15 reps. You can further improve your balance with the toe stand: Stand behind the chair — use it only for support — and slowly raise up on your tiptoes. After holding the position for a moment, slowly lower your heels back to the floor; repeat two sets of 10 to 15 reps.

Stork: One of the simplest exercises to improve balance is to stand on one leg, keep your arms at your side with your shoulders relaxed, and try to balance for 30 seconds. Repeat one to two times with each leg every day. Over the next few weeks, try to work up to two minutes. One hint: Try not to "grab" the floor with the toes of the foot that's on the ground. Relax your muscles, and you'll have more success.To make the stork more challenging, try swinging your arms like you're running. That will throw you slightly off balance and you will need to make corrections to maintain your balance. This can also help strengthen your core and abdomninal muscle groups that are involved in balancing. You can hold bottles of water in each hand for even more of a challenge. Another way to make the stork more challenging is to fold a bath towel over several times so it's five to six layers thick. Now place it on the floor and stand in the center of it. It will be unstable because it's soft, but that's the idea because you want to really work hard to improve your balance and strengthen your muscles. And for the most challenge of all, try doing the stork with your eyes closed.
Aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, dancing, biking, swimming, etc.): To promote and maintain health, older adults need moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes five days each week or vigorous intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 minutes three days each week. (Moderate intensity is when you feel "warm and slightly out of breath," and vigorous is when you feel "out of breath and sweaty.")
Another helpful stretch starts in the same standing position, but this time, clasp your hands in front. Turn your hands so the palms face the ground and bring your arms up to shoulder height. Press your palms outward, away from the body, and hold the move for about 30 seconds, release, and repeat. This exercise benefits the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
The good news here is that muscle patterning improves within days of starting a weight-lifting program, even without any increase in muscle mass. This explains the 113% increase in strength experienced by the residents of the nursing home in Boston in the previously cited study. In a different study that specifically investigated this phenomenon, 67- to 81-year-old men lifted weights for six weeks while hooked up to electrodes that measured their nerve and muscle patterning (an electromyogram machine). The results showed that the men experienced a 25% increase in the patterning of the muscle along with a 35% increase in strength, all without significant increases in size.
How might fitness and more brain tissue help you? Researchers have found that the fittest elders had the highest scores on tasks like coordination, scheduling, planning, and memory. And in a recent study of 1,740 adults older than 65, researchers found that the incidence of dementia in individuals who walked three or more times per week was 35% lower than those individuals who walked less than three days per week.
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