Despite misconceptions, senior citizens can make changes in their activities that will improve physical strength and coordination. Unfortunately, as our bodies age it is natural for us to lose some muscle mass and strength. However, you can have more control over the amount that your muscles age than you think. Loss of strength in senior citizens most likely results from lack of use as much as the aging process itself. Study in this area has led to the conclusion that most senior citizens could receive considerable benefit from a strength training program. The best news is that now is the perfect time to start!
Here’s how strength training works: our muscles need stimulation in order to grow. If we become less active, the muscles undergo less stress and become small as a result. A strength training program literally builds muscles and reverses these negative effect. Stress applied to healthy muscles, bones or tendons will cause these structures to become stronger, larger and denser. In fact, improvements usually begin to occur as soon as two to three weeks following the start of a strength training program.
Your general exercise program should work both the upper and lower body parts and should be performed on alternate days at least three days per week. Allowing a day of rest in between resistance exercise will permit muscles to recover before the next exercise period.
Free weights as well as weight machines are components of a good program. Items around the house such as a can of soup also may be used as weights. Emphasis should be placed on execution of a full range of motion and in a smooth organized manner. It is imperative that you pay attention to your breathing during exercise. As a general rule of thumb you should exhale when lifting the weight and inhale while lowering it. Never hold your breath!
Be encouraged, no matter what your age, to initiate a resistance exercise program. Involve your physician and make sure to get permission before starting any program. Your physician will be able to help get you on the right track and monitor your positive progress along the way.
If you know a senior citizen in need of strength training give us a call. Dr. Attilio Pensavalle at OrthoBalance Physical Therapy is ready to help at 516-482-0100