Health

Strength Training for Seniors

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Research shows that strength training can have positive benefits regardless of your age or health situation. Strength training includes the use of free weights, weight machines and resistance bands to strengthen the seven major muscle groups – legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms. 

Aging causes our bodies to become weaker, and muscles aren’t as strong as they used to be. Strength training can help build muscle tissue, reduce age-related muscle loss, maintain the integrity of your bones and improve balance and mobility. It also can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic diseases, including arthritis, diabetes and osteoporosis.

Many seniors limit increased physical activity because they are worried about the risk of injury and sudden heart attacks. However, research shows that physical activity is safe for almost everyone. If you do have chronic health issues, it is a good idea to check with your physician before beginning a strength training program.

After checking with your doctor, you can start a basic strength training program at home. Follow these tips as you start your strength training program:

  • Start slowly by using less weight to minimize injury
  • Warm up with a low-intensity activity such as walking
  • Don’t hold your breath while exercising, make sure you exhale
  • Drink water before, during and after exercising
  • Remember to stretch your muscles before and after exercise

If you experience muscle cramps or pain in your joints, feet, ankles or legs, stop exercising. There may be signs that you are overdoing it. Seek emergency medical care if you have any of these symptoms while exercising:

  • Chest pain or pressure, including pain in the shoulders, jaw or back
  • Become lightheaded, dizzy or faint
  • Feeling sick to your stomach

For more information on strength training, visit www.nia.nih.gov.
 

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