For seniors, things like walking, biking, dancing, and swimming are great ways to get some much-needed exercise.
All of those are excellent aerobic activities that help maintain cardiovascular health and keep or build endurance, which is one of four important factors in maintaining independence throughout the golden years (endurance, strength, flexibility, balance).
What many people neglect, unfortunately, is strength training. To stay healthy for as long as possible, we must hold onto as much muscle mass as possible to maintain not only strength, but help with balance, too.
Statistics show that one-third of Americans over age 65 fall each year, and 5 percent of those slips and falls cause broken bones. More than a million people head to a hospital emergency room each year for treatment after an accidental fall.
Don’t become a statistic.
Experts recommend at least two sessions of strength-training per week.
Before you start a strength-training program, check with your doctor to make sure everything is safe for you to get started. especially if you have any chronic health conditions, balance issues, or injuries.
After you get the green light (and you most assuredly will), consider this:
- Start slowly: if you are not used to strength (or resistance) training, one session a week may be the way to go in the beginning. Take your time and work up to two or three sessions a week.
- Focus on good form: learn to do different kinds of exercises with resistance machines or dumbbells properly, and make sure to emphasize quality over quantity. Don’t try to lift too much weight or do too many repetitions. Your muscles may be able to handle the load, but things like ligaments and tendons are more susceptible to strain and injury. Proceed slowly.
- Consider working with an expert: seek help from a professional personal trainer or join group exercise classes to help you get started. Personal training services can be a little pricey, but you won’t need professional guidance forever. Just long enough to gain some knowledge and get used to what you’re doing.
It does a body good!