Seniors of all ages and physical situations can benefit from regular strength training. Fran, 69, of Charlotte, NC, literally stumbled into the benefits of strength training. Years ago, she tripped over a bedspread and twisted her knee badly enough to need a doctor's care. During rehab, she was given a set of weight-based exercises to help strengthen her leg muscles and speed her recovery. Fran has always been active, but she noticed a distinct improvement after following the new regimen.
As Fran experienced, strength training can boost your health in many ways. Some examples include:
A strength-training routine should include the major muscles in your body. These muscles are found in your arms, legs, chest, back, and abdomen. You may think that your daily activities are enough to work these muscle groups, but a strength-training routine is designed to target certain muscles and push them to become stronger. Here are some examples of exercises to build certain muscles:
Take the following steps before beginning a strength training program:
Once you are ready to exercise, keep these basic principles in mind:
American Council on Exercise
National Institute on Aging
Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology
20 frequently asked questions. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/exercise-physical-activity-your-everyday-guide-national-institute-aging/20. Updated November 23, 2011. Accessed May 14, 2012.
Chapter 5: active older adults. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter5.aspx. Updated October 16, 2008. Accessed May 23, 2012.
Nelson M, Wernick S. Strong Women Stay Young. New York: Bantam Books; 1997.
Sample exercises: strength. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nih.gov/nia/health/pubs/nasa-exercise/chapter4_strength.htm. Updated November 23, 2011. Accessed May 14, 2012.
Why strength training? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/growingstronger/why/index.html. Updated February 24, 2011. Accessed May 23, 2012.
Last reviewed May 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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