Importantly, strength isn't just a function of mass. It's also a function of something called "neurological patterning." In layman's terms, patterning is when the brain sends electrical signals via the nervous system to muscles to make them contract. For example, when you think about walking down the street, bending over to pick something up, or any other movement for that matter, the brain first processes the thought and figures out what muscles are needed to make the move and then sends the signal over the nerves to the particular muscles that are necessary for the movement. The muscles move (and so do you) once the signal reaches them. (See "How muscles work" for more detail.)
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As we age, if we aren’t diligent about preventing it, we tend to lose a great deal of muscle mass. When that’s coupled with a more sedentary lifestyle, we’re more likely to gain weight, which is typically body fat and not muscle mass. That’s why resistance training is an essential part of your routine. There are many benefits to weight training, but the benefits of strength training for seniors are even more potent.
Pushups: This exercise works the same muscles as the chest press, but it also stretches them while training the core muscles to stabilize your torso and protect your lower back. Not many older people can do traditional pushups, with your hands and feet on the floor. Fortunately, you can make it easier without losing any benefits by elevating your hands on a bench or step, a kitchen counter, or even a wall. Check out the elevated pushup in the video below.
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.
You can begin with stretches in the first section and move onto balance exercises before switching to more advanced exercises. While all exercises are geared for seniors, many can be modified with weights, repetitions, or duration to suit your needs. Check out the different categories of exercises for seniors we have below, get active, and reap the health benefits!
Carlucci was running a fitness program for young moms when she decided to offer the tagalong grandparents a class of their own. She quickly discovered that routines geared to the issues dancers are most concerned about – alignment, strength, balance and coordination – can open up a whole new world of movement for people over 60 and also help prevent falls later.