The health benefits of daily exercise are widely known, but seniors facing health and mobility issues may feel working out is beyond their abilities. Sixty-three percent of people 60 and older don’t engage in daily exercise, according to the National Council on Aging’s “The United States of Aging” survey.
But resistance training can help seniors who fear falling or damaging aging muscles and bones while exercising. For seniors with health issues that might make strenuous exercise difficult, resistance training can be an accessible, healthful option that provides both physical and mental benefits, a new study indicates.
As the name implies, resistance training relies on the use of resistance to build muscle strength. Slow, measured movements are easier and more stable for seniors to perform than the strenuous activity of many types of aerobic exercise.
Before starting any kind of exercise program, seniors should talk to their doctors. Once they have the go-ahead to begin resistance training, many forms can be beneficial to seniors.
Resistance training offers many benefits for seniors, including improved strength, balance, coordination and posture, better bone density, plus lower risks of heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis and other chronic illnesses, as well as improved cognitive function and mood. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association also found that resistance training can positively affect cognitive abilities of seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Engaging in exercise for 150 minutes a week can allow seniors to maximize the health benefits. Seniors can exercise in one 30-minute session three or four days a week if they’re able, or if that intensity is too strenuous, they can break their workouts into 10-minute intervals throughout the week and still reap the benefits.
Resistance exercises should be done two to three days per week for each muscle group with a day of rest in between. This does not mean that other types of exercise, such as aerobic or flexibility exercises, should not be done on rest days. People who exercise daily might do resistance exercises for the upper body on one day and for the lower body on the next day.