For seniors, getting older doesn’t have to mean getting weaker. These days, 70 is the new 50 with more older adults living healthier and longer thanks to exercise programs centered on weight training for seniors.
In addition to building strength, weight training exercises for seniors help maintain bone density; fight the loss of muscle mass; improve balance, coordination and mobility; reduce the risk of falls; boost self-confidence; reduce depression; and improve independence and sense of well-being.
Regular physical activity over extended periods of time can provide long-term health benefits, which is why it’s recommended seniors be active every day to maintain optimal health. Strength training is safe and effective for all ages, levels of fitness and medical conditions.
Additionally, strength training can help reduce the signs and symptoms of many diseases and chronic conditions such as:
- Arthritis: Reduces pain and stiffness; increases strength and flexibility.
- Diabetes: Improves glycemic control; lowers blood sugar levels.
- Osteoporosis: Builds bone density.
- Heart disease: Reduces cardiovascular risk by improving overall fitness and lipid profile.
- Obesity: Increases metabolism, which helps burn more calories and assists with long-term weight control.
- Back pain: Reduces stress on the spine by strengthening lower back and abdominal muscles.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) recommends strength training or weightlifting for older adults because of the full health benefits it offers. Weight training routines for seniors should incorporate all major muscle groups — shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, back, hips and legs. The NIA also recommends performing strength training or weightlifting exercises two to three days per week, with a rest day between workouts. As with any fitness program, be sure to talk with your doctor before getting started.
HUR strength training
HUR circuit machines and strength training equipment are designed specifically for active aging, physical therapy and older adult exercise.
Using Natural Transmission air resistance technology rather than a traditional weight stack system, the equipment simulates natural muscle movement and adjusts resistance based on the muscle’s natural force. This allows seniors to train at both low and high speeds with less risk of injury. HUR equipment is designed specifically for older adults and is ideal for:
Fall prevention: Studies show strength and balance training help decrease falls and resulting injuries by more than half. In seniors, muscle strength is connected to balance control and functional ability that help with everyday chores.
Cardiac rehab: Resistance training is safer and lower risk for cardiac patients than aerobic endurance training.
Lower back pain: Strengthening the abdomen and lower back muscles can help relieve pain caused by degenerative disc disease, lumbar sprain, disc herniation and degenerative spinal disorders.
Weight machine workouts
If HUR circuit machines are unavailable, the weighted plate fitness machines found at most gyms are another option for strength and resistance training.
These machines help ensure you’re using proper form and allow you to work all your major muscle groups in 30 minutes. They’ll also allow you to start at the right level for you and help build strength over time as you train your body to use the correct muscles.
Many weight machines are seated so you don’t have to stand on your feet or get on the floor. Most machines also have instruction cards to guide you through the basic movements and patterns of exercise.
Before getting started, you’ll want to warm up for at least five minutes. An easy outline to follow is to perform each exercise between 12 and 15 sets of reps. Do this for two rounds, resting for 10 seconds between each round. When using resistance on weight-based machines, remember to start slow.
Weight training exercises for seniors
Leg press machine (leg extensions and leg curls): This lower-body machine works your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Bad hips or knees? Try the exercise without any weight.
Lat pulldown machine: Form is key with this exercise, so keep it slow and steady. To make this exercise more comfortable, start with your palms facing you which engages your biceps more. When you’re ready for a challenge, bring your hands closer together or farther apart.
Cable biceps bar (bicep curls): This exercise is critical for maintaining balanced strength in your arms. Avoid the swinging motion of a dumbbell by using a cable to slowly raise and lower the weight.
Chest press: Works the chest, biceps and triceps and is a similar motion to a push-up.
Rowing machine: Offers a full-body workout, with both upper and lower body resistance training. This helps balance the body from sitting hunched forward over a computer for extended periods of time.
Ab machine: A few rounds of crunches on this machine will do wonders to strengthen your core.
When it’s time to cool down, focus on deep breathing and light stretching. As always with any weight machine workout, safety is the top priority. Engage your body, move with control, and let the machines support and guide you.
From wellness to well-being
Presbyterian Village North senior living community offers one of the top 25 wellness-centered environments in the country. The Village’s Lifestyle Fitness Center delivers exercise programs and basic weight training for seniors of all ages and fitness levels.
It offers HUR exercise equipment designed specifically for active seniors. Using a SmartCard Virtual Trainer system, our coaches and trainers design individual workouts and track progress over time. They also provide one-on-one personal training that’s ideal for achieving peak health.
Additionally, the center also offers a dedicated studio for step aerobics, spin classes and Pilates. Aquatic fun and fitness happen in a pool large enough for exercise classes, water fitness programming, and lap lanes for swimming and water walking. The cafe located just outside the fitness center is a perfect post-workout gathering spot and serves up quick, delicious, healthy selections to grab and go.