Strength Training is Key for Older Adults to Maintain Independence
Aging can bring with it some physical declines such decreased mobility, joint pain during movement, and a loss of muscle strength. Yet, research shows that daily exercise to maintain physical health can lead to more successful aging, with fewer declines and a better quality of life throughout the golden years. It is never to late to implement a daily exercise regimen to promote your physical wellness.
Many older adults do know that daily activity is important, however, you may not know that strength training can specifically be a key ingredient for maintaining independent living. Learn more about the benefits of strength training and some helpful, safe strength training approaches for older adults:
Benefits of Strength Training
Strength training typically involves exercise and while you might think of exercise as being for weight management, these approaches can help with a lot more than that. Strength training has been shown to improve muscle mass and balance. As the muscles are strengthened and balance is improved, this can help to reduce back and joint pain. This is because the muscles do more of the work more smoothly and can then keep the body in a better position, reducing poor posture and the work done by the joints.
Reductions in weight, improvements in mobility, and increased balance may all be quite observable. However, some of the benefits from strength training are less obvious. Research shows it can reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis and the risk of osteoporosis. Strength training can even improve your metabolism and the body’s mechanisms for glucose control. In turn, these improvements can help the body’s systems better manage the symptoms of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes.
Research shows the benefits of strength training go beyond just physical health. It can help improve sleep duration and quality, which will lead to its own benefits. It can even help cognitive and emotional functioning, such as reducing the risk and symptoms of depression. Finally, it can help people maintain their sense of independence as they stay active. Feeling physically good also makes it easier to do the tasks of daily living and will allow you to be less reliant on others for assistance.
Approaches to Strength Training
When you think of strength training, you might picture body builders bench pressing hundreds of pounds. However, strength training does not have to be that intense or that elaborate, and certainly the results may not be quite so dramatic. For most people, strength training is just about maintaining their current muscle mass or making minor physical improvements. It can be done with simple approaches and little equipment even just at home or around the neighborhood.
If you have access to a gym with equipment, there are exercises you can do that are much easier and safer than bench pressing. Chest press and leg press machines allow for strength building in the shoulders and legs, while in a seated position. The repeated motions against the weight of the machine do not put the weight entirely on you, which is much safer than lifting heavy weights. At the gym pool, you can also do low impact strength training with small weights in the water.
At home, and with limited access to equipment, you can still do strength training. You can use small hand or leg weights and perform repetitious movements. Alternatively, you can wear leg weights or carry hand weights during a walk around the block or at the local mall. Other exercises can utilize your own weight for strength training. This can include trunk curls, knee bends, and the lateral raise where you bend your arms at the elbow and lift them up parallel to your shoulders.
For older adults who want to maintain their independence, strength training is one helpful approach. Of course, many adults want to maintain their physical capabilities whether they reside at home or in assisted living. Today’s modern senior living communities are designed for aging adults who want to live fairly independently, but who want fewer responsibilities and access to professional services, as needed. In turn, being in an assisted living community can also make it easier to maintain one’s health.
Many assisted living communities offer planned activities, such as classes, to help their residents stay active. Strength training can be accomplished in group-based dance and yoga classes, tailored for the older adult population. Facilities such as walking trails and a gym with the right equipment also make it easier to stay active. With professional staff available, it is easy to consult about the best approaches and ensure that any physical activities also align with medical recommendations.
If you are considering ways to maintain your independence, do not discount the option of independent living in a senior living community. In these settings you can strike the right balance of independence with amenities that can make your golden years a little more enjoyable. Consider the option of Quail Park Communities. Located throughout the western United States, Quail Park offers a range of residential options with amenities designed to help seniors maintain independence and quality of life.