Strength exercises for seniors
Many of our regular class members are now returning to face-to-face classes after a year of lockdown. Although they have tried to stay active, with the most popular activity being walking, they have been shocked by how much weaker they have become and how this has affected their balance. All activity is good for us, but not everyone realises how vital it is to include strengthening exercises to help maintain muscle mass and function. This is because after the age of 60 we lose up to 3% of our muscle mass every year.
The good news is that we can take control, turn back the clock and improve our health (including our immune system) by staying strong. The recommendation from the Chief Medical Officers of the UK is that the over 60s do strengthening exercises twice a week – so here’s our top tips to help you stay strong.
Get yourself a resistance band – it’s like having a portable gym in your pocket. They come in different strengths so you can start off with a ‘softer’ band and gradually build up to use stronger bands as you improve.
They are remarkably effective, great value for money and you don’t have to go a gym to get a good workout. They are very versatile and are often used by physiotherapists for rehabilitation after surgery all the way through to elite athletes.
Download our Guide to using resistance bands which has a variety of exercises to improve your strength and muscle tone. Resist the temptation to do too much too soon as you may not notice you’ve overdone it until the following day.
Keep a track of your progress. If you haven’t exercised for a while, then start with 5 repetitions of 3 strengthening exercises. Gradually increase the number of repetitions to 10 and then bit by bit work towards doing 3 sets of 10 repetitions with a minutes break inbetween each set. Keep a note of how many you do each time so you can track your progress.
How hard should you work? This is different for everyone, so keep this phrase in mind – “doable but challenging” so you feel ready to stop after 10 reps. If it feels too easy then change where you grip the band and the number of reps.
Where you grip the band can change how challenging the exercise is. Try this to see just how much difference it makes:
- Grab the band at chest level with your palms facing down, wider than shoulder-width apart
- Gradually stretch the band taking your hands further apart
- Hold for 3 seconds then release back to the starting position with control
- Make sure you breathe normally throughout
- If that felt ok then edge your hands in a little closer (about an inch) before repeating
- You should notice it feels harder to stretch the band
- If that felt ok then repeat with hands another inch closer – it should feel really challenging now
- Find the right position for you to do up to 10 repetitions where you are working hard but not struggling
You can purchase a resistance band here – all our bands are high quality, 1.5m long and come in the following strengths:
- Red band (light) for beginners
- Green band (medium) for intermediate
- Blue band (heavy) for advanced
- Black band (extra strong) for a really challenging workout
If you struggle with grip strength then consider using our soft foam band handles to help.
For our guide on adjusting your grip on the band, watch this easy-to-follow video.
Or try to get along to one of our Move it or Lose it classes where your specially trained instructor can help you improve your technique.
As always, if you have any health conditions or are unsure whether these exercises are suitable for you, then please check with a health professional first.