Senior Fitness & the Benefits of Strength Training

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Senior Fitness & the Benefits of Strength Training

Exercise is important at any age, but for seniors it is imperative. Falls are one of the main causes of hospital visits. Balance issues commonly lead to these falls and so it’s one of the main focuses when we design senior exercise programs. Seniors also benefit from exercise because exercise slows or reverses bone loss (osteoporosis), slows down and reverses sarcopenia, (the loss in number and size of muscle cells that are then replaced with fat), increases flexibility, mobility and coordination, and improves posture. Senior exercise programs can also keep seniors independent longer. Exercise helps make it easier and safer to carry groceries into the house, climb stairs, manage household chores or garden.

Senior exercise programs also keep seniors healthy because exercise increases immune function, lowers blood pressure, alleviates symptoms of arthritis, and lowers risk of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and even Alzheimer's. In addition to these physical benefits, there are also mental benefits like improved self-confidence, better mood with less depression, preventing memory loss and cognitive decline, increased life expectancy, longer independence, and reduced occurrence of dementia.

Walking is not enough for seniors. Good balance is essential because it prevents falls, a major cause of broken hips and other injuries that often lead to disability and loss of independence. Balance exercises on a BOSU, and stability exercises on an exercise ball are highly beneficial. Many of the seniors we work with enjoy the BOSU and Stability Ball, and have gotten great results.

Studies show weight bearing exercises are critical as well. Weights fight the onset of osteoporosis and sarcopenia because they help maintain and increase bone mass, muscle strength, and improve balance. Building strength and power will help you stay independent and make day-to-day activities such as opening a jar, getting in and out of a car, and lifting objects much easier.

So where do you start? The first step is to begin a walking program. Begin with several minutes a few days a week. Then slowly increase, until 5 days a week is reached for 30 minutes each day. Second, begin a proper strength-training program designed by an exercise professional. Third, start a stretching program for 15 minutes, 5 days a week. Fourth, address balance issues by incorporating balance exercises into your strength-training program.

Many of our clients report that they have more energy and stamina, have improved their golf game, can enjoy their grandchildren much more, and even enjoy a more restful deep sleep at night. The most important message for seniors is that it is never too late to reap the benefits of a well-rounded exercise program.

Read 3071 times Last modified on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 02:20

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