According to the American Council on Exercise, as you age, getting regular exercise can help boost energy, maintain your independence, and manage symptoms of illness or pain. In fact, ACE notes that exercise can even reverse some of the symptoms of aging. While taking your daily walk remains a crucial piece of this exercise pie, getting in strength training reps is the part that will truly make the difference in your well-being.
As many of us have already noticed, muscle mass decreases as we age. Beginning in the fourth decade of life, adults lose 3%-5% of muscle mass per decade, and the decline increases to 1%-2% per year after age 50. Muscle keeps us strong, it burns calories and helps us maintain our weight, and it is also an essential contributor to our balance and bone strength. Without it, we can lose our independence and our mobility.
Get ready to move through a complete series of seated and standing yoga poses. Chair support is offered so you can perform a variety of seated and standing postures designed to increase flexibility, balance and range of movement. Restorative breathing exercises and final relaxation will promote stress reduction and mental clarity. This class is suitable for nearly every fitness level....
Strength training differs from cardiovascular training. One involves aerobic training, whereas, the other involves working and strengthening your muscles. According to Wikipedia, strength training is “…a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles.”
There's good news that should serve as an encouragement to all of us when it comes to fitness, walking endurance, and health. In a classic study of walking and mortality in 700 men enrolled in the Honolulu Heart Program, the mortality rate among the men who walked less than one mile per day was nearly twice the rate of those who walked more than two miles per day. (Studies of women showed similar results). In another study, data collected on more than 41,000 men and women from 1990 to 2001 were analyzed to find the relationship between walking and mortality. It was reported that men and women who walked 30 minutes or more per day during the study period had fewer deaths than those who walked less than 30 minutes. Interestingly, even men and women who smoked or were overweight were protected from early death if they walked more than 30 minutes per day.
As many of us have already noticed, muscle mass decreases as we age. Beginning in the fourth decade of life, adults lose 3%-5% of muscle mass per decade, and the decline increases to 1%-2% per year after age 50. Muscle keeps us strong, it burns calories and helps us maintain our weight, and it is also an essential contributor to our balance and bone strength. Without it, we can lose our independence and our mobility.
If you’re new to strength training, which is also referred to as resistance training, don’t stress about all the exercise equipment lining your gym floor. Instead, focus on performing exercises using your bodyweight so you can learn proper form and build a base level of strength before adding extra challenges to the mix, recommends Gavin McHale, a certified exercise physiologist based in Winnipeg. Doing so will reduce the risk of exercise injury while also allowing you to get better results from future workouts.
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!
When I was younger, I never worried about my health or quality of life. As I've gotten older, I've realized how important that is from my own experience and from working with older personal training clients. My senior clients, some of whom are in better shape than I am, have taught me about the importance of being healthy and taking care of our bodies for the future. Even more important, they've taught me that it's never too late to start exercising.
To quote Gavin McHale, a Winnipeg-based Kinesiologist and Certified Exercise Physiologist
 who works primarily with older adults: “Strength is the fountain of youth. Benefits of resistance training (strength training), and subsequent strength gains, in older adults include better control of symptoms of chronic disease, pain and depression, as well as prevention of falls, maintaining existing muscle mass, improving posture and stability, increasing bone density and remaining functional.”
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.)
For aerobic exercise: Walking, dancing (when's the last time you took a ballroom-dancing class?), biking, and swimming are all good options. You can also try exercise videos. Collage Video is a good resource. They have lots of videos for individuals of all ages (search their site for "seniors"). Also check out your local senior center, rec center, Y, or local fitness center for classes that are appropriate for you. Many centers offer exercise classes for seniors. They're out there if you look.
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.
Exercising is good for the body as people age, helping to ensure good overall health, strength, and flexibility. Among the best types of exercises for seniors are those that build strength and stability. They help build muscle, boost the metabolism, and prevent falls that can be dangerous for senior citizens. Stretching and endurance workouts are also healthy exercises for seniors, helping older people maintain mobility, flexibility, and stamina.

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.
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!
Osteoporosis is responsible for 2 million fractures annually. The good news is that exercise can increase bone density in some older individuals. The precise amount and type of exercise necessary to achieve benefit is unknown, but encouragingly, research shows that weight lifting, and even just walking, can increase bone density in the hip and spine. The reason for this may be that weight lifting causes stress on the bones as the muscles contract (which causes the bones to thicken), and walking also causes stress on the bones, which stimulates them to grow.
Love treadmills? One con, Smith notes, is that a motorized treadmill can do too much of the work for you. You need to elevate the walking surface a few degrees just to match the effort of walking on flat ground. Your fix: Once you can walk on the treadmill comfortably, don’t be afraid to bump up the incline or intensity. Learn how in our beginner’s guide to the treadmill.
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.
As you age, testosterone levels can decline. Contrary to popular belief, both men and women have testosterone. Believe it or not, testosterone plays a large part in maintaining your long-term health, and keeping levels high is important. If testosterone is too low, not only does it affect sex drive, but you can experience reduced energy as well as increased depression, aggression, and other mood disorders, along with an increased loss of muscle mass. One of the ways you can keep those testosterone levels high is by adding regular resistance training to your regimen.
Osteoporosis is responsible for 2 million fractures annually. The good news is that exercise can increase bone density in some older individuals. The precise amount and type of exercise necessary to achieve benefit is unknown, but encouragingly, research shows that weight lifting, and even just walking, can increase bone density in the hip and spine. The reason for this may be that weight lifting causes stress on the bones as the muscles contract (which causes the bones to thicken), and walking also causes stress on the bones, which stimulates them to grow.
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