Strength Exercises for the Elderly

 
 

Whatever age we are, we have to look after our bodies in order to enjoy the best quality of life. This is true whether you’re 22 or 82. However, as we get older, we can find that staying in decent shape gets harder and harder but by being proactive in staying fit, we can really improve our quality of life.

Why We Struggle With Strength As We Get Older 

Really, the reason we get weaker as we get older is little different to why we might struggle with weight and/or cardio as we reach our later years. First off, our bodies simply naturally get less physically fit as we advance in age. This means that a lot of people simply give up on attempting to stay fit and healthy, believing it’s an inevitable consequence of age, but that’s simply not the case.

While it is true that a young adult in peak physical condition is going to be able to do more than an elderly person in peak physical condition, that’s not to say that you can’t vastly improve your physical abilities with the right diet and exercise.

Another reason older people often struggle is that they may suffer from physical ailments which make it seem as though doing any kind of exercise is out of their reach. While we can’t give you an exact idea of what exercises are best for your specific physical condition – after all, everyone is different and has different needs – we can give a selection of general exercises at different levels of difficulty. These should hopefully give you some idea of what you or someone else can do based around their condition.

Of course, it’s vital for all people to consult a doctor before making any major lifestyle changes, but this is especially the case if you know you suffer from issues that will make exercise more challenging. This is one of the many reasons why, at Melrose Care Home, we offer personalised care to make sure that each individual is getting the right treatment for their specific needs, both physical and otherwise. 

There’s also a greater risk of injury when it comes to exercise for older people, which can put people off. This is particularly true when dealing with strength exercises for elderly individuals, as they are higher risk than some other kinds. However, with careful planning, a slow and steady approach and, as we’ve mentioned, seeking medical advice before you begin, this risk can be greatly decreased. You can also improve the scope of what you can do and reduce the risk by having someone help with your routine whenever needed. Having someone to assist and supervise is highly recommended when it comes to strength exercises for frail elderly individuals.  

Things to Remember When Building Strength:

We’ve already touched on some of the things we can do to help matters. These include:

  1. Going at a slow pace and not expecting overnight results

  2. Making sure that you take into account your physical condition and don’t go beyond your limits

  3. Seek medical advice to find out what those limits are

  4. Have someone on hand to help. Even professionals need spotters!

Other Benefits To Keep In Mind

It’s also worth remembering that, although the physical changes won’t be instant, they will come about in time and not only that, but there are other advantages to exercise beyond getting healthier and stronger. Exercise in general is known to vastly improve mental as well as physical health, improving things like depression, anxiety and general cognitive ability. So, if the slow progress physically is making you or your loved one lack in motivation, remember that the benefits go far beyond what you can lift. 

Another benefit is that your physical strength improvements go far beyond what you can achieve in terms of sets or reps. They can also bring about improvements in your stamina and mobility, meaning you can find it easier to do things you enjoy, such as socialise or go on trips out.

So What Strength Exercises Can We Do?

As we’ve said, what is right for you or your loved one entirely depends on the needs of the individual. However, here’s a few of the best strength exercise for elderly people to help you get you started.

Hip Marching:

Sit on a chair with sides, hold onto the sides and lift one leg at a time as far as is comfortable. A good starting set is five per leg, but any amount you can do is fine.

Arm Raises:

While sitting, start with your arms by your sides, lift them both as high as possible while keeping your shoulders straight, breathing out as they are raising and taking a breath while they are lowering. Try five sets to begin with, lowering the amount if you find this difficult.

Sit To Stand:

If you’re wanting to try some leg strength exercises for the elderly, then this is one that pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin. Start off sitting in a sturdy chair and try to stand up using only your legs. If you find this difficult, try using different levels of arm support until you find one you’re comfortable with.

Calf Raises:

Stand at the back of your chair and grip the back to keep yourself stable. Now lift yourself up by your heels slowly as far as you are comfortable. Try starting with five reps, lowering if needed.

Wall Press Up:

When it comes to upper body strength exercises, elderly people don’t have to push themselves too hard to get great results. Simply stand with your arms both pressed against the wall at chest levels. With your palms flat, bend your arms with your back straight and your elbows at your side. Close the gap between you and the wall as much as is comfortable.