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Exercise for Seniors: Adding Strength Training to Your Assisted Living Workout Routine

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Exercise for Seniors: Adding Strength Training to Your Assisted Living Workout Routine

You probably know that regular movement and exercise is important to health. This is true for people of all ages, but for older adults the benefits can be critical to living a vibrant life. Minding your physical body, no matter where you are in your life journey, can help you maximize your strength, mobility, balance and other functions.

Increasing all those things helps ensure you can live as independently as possible in your assisted living apartment. It also helps you take advantage of everything life has to offer, from social outings and entertainment to time with grandkids or other family members.

When it comes to exercise, many people know about cardio requirements. For example, you might know that you should get a minimum number of cardio minutes in each week to support heart health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio or brisk walking for people age 65 and older.

But the CDC also recommends getting strength-training exercise in at least two days a week. Strength training helps you build and maintain muscle strength, maintain current bone density and improve functions such as balance and coordination. These improvements help your body feel better and can even decrease your risk of falls.

Before you embark on any new exercise program, including weight or strength training, remember to consult with your doctor or another healthcare professional. What might be right for many isn’t necessarily right for you and your body, and exercise programs should always be customized to fit individual needs.

For help customizing your workout programs, reach out to the Autumn View Gardens assisted living staff in Creve Coeur, MO. You can also enjoy group exercise led by qualified staff members to help you learn more about what your body can do and how to put it to work.

If you prefer to exercise on your own in or outside of your assisted living apartment, you have a number of options. Check out some ideas below for adding strength and weight training to your routine.

Start by Educating Yourself

Whether you’re doing body strength training that involves moves such as squats or you’re working with free weights, it’s critical to understand how to use the right form and work up to certain exercises. Doing repeated exercises with the wrong form can be dangerous and cause injury, and trying to do exercises you aren’t ready for can lead to the same results.

The CDC has published a free ebook you can download titled Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults. You can read this book on a computer or tablet or print it out for reference. It covers topics such as why strength training is important, how to motivate yourself to do it and how to get started. It also includes a 12-week workbook to help you track your progress.

Other ways to learn more about safe strength training include:

  • Talking to exercise and physical therapy staff within the assisted living community
  • Asking your doctor for program recommendations
  • Joining a local fitness gym or senior center
  • Watching YouTube videos on senior exercise to understand form

Should You Work With Weights?

Whether or not you include weights depends on your unique physical needs and recommendations from your healthcare provider. Adding weights to your exercise movements helps build more muscle and can reduce the amount of repetitions and sets you need to complete.

Reps are how many times you do a specific move in one set. Sets refer to how many total “groups” of that movement you do. For example, you might do a specific shoulder exercise 10 times in a row. That’s 10 reps. Then you might rest for a minute before doing 10 more. That would mean you did two sets of 10 reps.

If you’ve never worked with weights, it might be best to start performing the movements without weights first to practice form and understand what your body is capable of. You can also start with small weights —hand weights come as small has half a pound or a pound.

You can also substitute household objects for hand weights if you’d like to add resistance to your movements without the expense of weights. Try holding a water bottle, small canned goods or even a plastic bag filled with dry beans, for example.

Reach out to the assisted living community staff if you’d like to try using weights but aren’t sure how to get started. We have sets of hand weights of various sizes for residents to use.

Can You Strength Train Without Weights?

 You can build strength in every muscle or muscle group without using weights if you know how to exercise those areas of your body. Many times, your own body can be used to provide the resistance needed to ensure muscles get a good workout. Harvard Medical School provides an article with some suggestions for strength training without weights, and, again, you can always reach out to the assisted living staff here in Creve Coeur for help getting started.

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