By Gary Wells, Wellness Specialist at Twin Towers Senior Living Community
Although strength declines as we age with a 25% loss of peak force by age 65, it’s never too late to start to rebuild muscle and gain strength.
Benefits that come along with strength training are:
- Bone Strength - when you keep your bones strong you can help prevent diseases that attack the skeletal system like osteoporosis.
- Joint Health - the stronger your muscles are the less pressure you will put on your joints over time while doing daily and recreational activities.
There are a variety of ways to maintain or improve your overall strength that don’t directly involve weightlifting. Here are a few fun ways that can help maintain strength as we age.
There are some daily activities when done consistently over time, and at a moderate intensity, can keep your muscles and bones strong.
Recommendations for these daily activities to help maintain muscular endurance would be doing at least 3-4 days of moderate intensity for 30-45 mins weekly, or 2-3 days of vigorous intensity for 20-30 mins per week.
There are certain types of activities that recruit major muscle groups and keep them stimulated to help prevent the loss of strength and muscle as we age.
Recommendations for these recreational activities to help maintain muscular endurance would be doing at least 3-4 days of moderate intensity for 30-45 mins weekly, or 2-3 days of vigorous intensity for 20-30 mins per week.
Strength Training Exercises – No Weights
Doing exercise to directly strengthen you muscles is the most effective method of maintaining strength with aging. Strength training can be specific as well, with a focus on not only maintaining muscle but actually building and growing your muscles.
Here are a few exercises that can help maintain and improve strength.
Lunges - helps build strength in legs, glutes and core
Starting Position: feet shoulders width apart, hips pulled in, shoulders high
- Bring right leg back
- While bending the left knee, sink right knee down keeping right hip, shoulder and knee in alignment, bend right arm up at the elbow
- Hold for 2-3 seconds, you’re left leg will be doing all of the work
- Pressing through the heel of your left foot, return to starting position
Repeat 7-10 times then alternate sides.
Planks* - works to build stability in core muscles, shoulders and chest
Starting Position: lie on your stomach on the mat, feet apart, arms shoulders width apart and bent at the elbow
- Pull hips up to about shoulder height keeping legs and glutes tight, pulling abdomen up and core tight
- Hold for 30 - 60 seconds
- Bring knees down then chest upon finishing the plank and returning to the mat
Repeat 2-3 sets of 30-60 seconds each.
*Planks can also be modified by allowing the knees to be placed on the ground in place of your feet.
Gary’s Expert Tip: this is about keeping it reasonable so that you don’t stress out your joints. Extended periods of doing planks can become less beneficial when you are more efficient at doing planks.
Calf Raise - increases muscular endurance in the calf muscles
Equipment: Chair optional
Starting Position: feet shoulder width apart, hips pulled in core braced and shoulders high but relaxed.
- Lift heels by pressing down through ball of foot, to the highest position you can achieve
- Hold that contraction for about 2 seconds, squeezing calves
- Slowly ease heels back to ground, maintaining control
Repeat 15-20 reps for 2-3 sets.
Gary is a Wellness Specialist at the fitness & wellness center at Twin Towers, The Connection, where you will find a team expertly trained to create workout routines and exercises that are specifically designed for those aged 50+. The Aquatic Center includes a 75-foot heated pool, aquatic bikes, and a whirlpool.