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  • Writer's pictureJess Mcdonald

A Physiotherapist's Perspective on Strength for Seniors

Updated: Apr 5

You may have been told to get stronger, but why?


You also may have heard stretching is the way to longevity. With so much information and advice. What should you be doing?


Physiotherapist helping a client


No 1 -> MOVING is great, strength, cardio, stretching something is better than nothing. But as more evidence is produced, it seems there are some fantastic benefits of getting strong that will help with aging.


So what are the Benefits of Strength Training?


  • Stronger Muscles: Makes everyday tasks like carrying groceries, climbing stairs, and playing with grandkids easier.

  • Better Balance: Reduces the risk of falls, which can have serious consequences.

  • Stronger Bones: Helps prevent osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones.

  • More Energy: Strength training has been shown to improve your mood and overall well-being.


Other Benefits: 


Strength training for seniors goes far beyond building impressive biceps. It delivers:


  • Enhanced Muscular Strength and Endurance: Studies demonstrate that consistent strength training can combat sarcopenia (muscle loss), leading to greater strength, endurance, and improved mobility (1). Imagine tackling daily tasks like grocery shopping, climbing stairs, or playing with grandchildren with renewed vigor.

  • Improved Skeletal Health: Osteoporosis remains a major concern for older adults. Fortunately, strength training acts as a powerful ally. Weight-bearing exercises stimulate bone growth, increasing bone mineral density and significantly reducing the risk of fractures and falls (2).

  • Metabolic Boost: Strength training isn't just about building muscle; it also fires up your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories even at rest (3). This translates to improved weight management and overall metabolic health.

  • Cognitive Enhancement: The benefits extend beyond the physical. Research suggests that strength training can enhance cognitive function, memory, and even protect against age-related dementia (4). So, not only will you feel stronger, but you might also think sharper!

  • Empowered Independence: Maintaining physical independence is key to a fulfilling life as we age. Strength training helps you stay active and mobile, reducing reliance on others for daily tasks. This boosts your confidence and self-esteem, contributing to an overall improved quality of life.


How to Get Stronger Today? 


Don't be discouraged by misconceptions! Fancy equipment or gym memberships aren't essential. Bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, and even household items can be effective tools. It's crucial to:


  • Start slow and gradually increase intensity: Begin with gentle exercises and gradually work your way up to more challenging ones.

  • Focus on functional movements: These are exercises that mimic everyday activities, like squats, lunges, and overhead presses.

  • Use bodyweight, resistance bands, or light weights: You don't need fancy equipment to get started.

  • Find activities you enjoy: This will help you stick with it in the long run.

  • Stay safe: Listen to your body and stop if you feel pain. Use proper form to avoid injury.

  • Seek Professional Guidance: Consider working with a qualified physiotherapist to learn proper technique and tailor a program to your specific needs and fitness level.

  • Fuel Your Body: Stay hydrated and nourish your body with nutritious foods to support your training and overall health.

Remember, it's never too late to start strength training or build muscle.


Did you know it takes 6-8 weeks of 2 x per week sessions to increase your strength? This is the recommended guidelines from the National Institute of Ageing.


Here are some Specific Exercises to get you started:


  • Bodyweight exercises: Squats, lunges, push-ups against a wall, sit-to-stands, and calf raises.

  • Resistance band exercises: Bicep curls, triceps extensions, and overhead presses.

  • Light weight exercises: Bicep curls, overhead presses, and rows.


Some Examples of Strength Training for Beginners:


This Exercise is a fantastic way to get started working on your strength and balance at the same time.





So How Strong are you? Challenge time -> This exercise Maddie is showing us is a fantastic test and exercise for lower limb strength and balance. Find a chair at home you can just complete this full movement and as you get stronger, move to a lower one. Enjoy !




Additional Tips:


  • Find a workout buddy: Working out with a friend can be more motivating and enjoyable.

  • Join a group fitness class: This can be a great way to stay motivated and learn new exercises. At Move we have strength and balance classes running every Monday and Thursday, not to mention daily clinical Pilates sessions where our focus is building strength and control. Read more about our classes here

  • Make it part of your daily routine: Even a few minutes of exercise each day can make a difference.


Remember, building strength is a journey, not a sprint. Be patient, listen to your body, and enjoy the process! It is really normal to be a little sore in the days following your new exercise regimen if you need help or guidance with specific exercises for your body. Reach out !



Keen to learn more? Here are some additional resources you may find helpful:



Motivated to get started - Book your initial appointment here to assess your strength. At MOVE we will provide you with detailed data of your strength outcomes, including grip strength, leg strength and upper body strength. We will also provide you with a report to show how you measure up with others your age, as well as a tailored home program and plan to help you get strong and stay strong!






References:


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