The Best Resistance Training Exercises for Seniors, Expert Says
The exact age when "senior" status hits depends on who you're talking to and where you're looking. That being said, according to Senior Living, when you hit age 55, you begin to head into the "senior age demographic," and age 65 is when many people retire. It's easy to want to take things, well, easy in this stage of life. You've worked a lifetime and may feel like you just want to stop and smell the roses. But research reveals that close to 67% of seniors are sedentary for a minimum of 8 ½ hours daily, and that's not a good thing. Some exercise is necessary every day. It can help to prevent many health issues, including heart disease, arthritis, obesity, type II diabetes, dementia, depression, hypertension, cancer, insomnia, and even early death, according to the National Institute for Fitness and Sport Fitness Center Management. Getting in your daily dose of fitness can help you sleep better and improve your overall quality of life. That's why we spoke with Sebastien Lagree, founder of Lagree Fitness, who shares the best resistance training exercises for seniors to start doing ASAP.
As you get older, a few things happen to your body. Lagree explains you waste muscle, and therefore, you lose bone density. He says, "Inactivity makes us intrinsically weaker, and it's important to maintain our physical strength. Resistance training stimulates the body to keep the muscle and preserve bone density, while inactivity only accelerates the aging process." The kind of resistance Lagree recommends is called progressive resistance, also known as variable tension. This workout will ease tension on your joints, which is different than using weights, "because the spring eases the tension in the connective tissue and greatly reduces the risk of micro-tears."
Read on to learn more about the best resistance training exercises for seniors, but note that before you start any aggressive form of exercise, it's always wise to check in with your healthcare professional. And next, don't miss The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.
Resistance-based training is important to maintain lean body mass, and seniors should focus on moves that help with balance
Lagree tells Eat This Not That! there aren't any exercises he's aware of that seniors should steer clear of, and feels the best exercise for seniors is swimming. In addition, walking for one hour every day is a great addition to any workout regimen. He also recommends performing yoga, but in order to maintain good overall health, walking and yoga aren't enough.
"You need a resistance-based training regimen to keep the lean body mass," he tells us, adding, "Overall, I recommend everyone to start small and build from there. For seniors, I do suggest a resistance program that includes exercises targeting balance."
He actually came up with Lagree door mounts, specifically with seniors at the top of his mind. He was inspired when his mom endured several surgeries for her neck and shoulder, and Lagree knew she'd have to perform specific exercises in order to make those areas stronger, without adding additional stress to her joints. He says, "I wanted something simple to set up that was effective that she could take with her anywhere."
It can be done easily. In fact, if you don't happen to have a door mount readily available, you can use a resistance band or a theraband. Simply wrap it around a chair, bench, table, or doorknob, and perform the resistance Lagree's training exercises below.
Lagree tells us the Newspaper exercise is great for strengthening your rotator cuff and shoulder. To perform the movement, he instructs, "Attach a resistance band to a door knob or door mount and grab the other end. Align the resistance band with the elbow, clip the elbow to the rib cage, and pull on the band by rotating the shoulder externally out." Slowly perform 10 to 15 reps with control.
Work the Glutes
This exercise will target your glutes. "Attach an ankle strap to a resistance band that's attached to a door mount on the floor—or wrap it around the foot of a table—and fit it around the ankle," Lagree explains, adding, "Turn facing toward the wall/door, and lift the leg that is connected up and back, pulling from the glutes." Complete 10 to 15 reps on each leg.
Stationary Lunge with Row
Last but not least comes the Stationary Lunge with Row that works on balance and strengthens your back and glutes. Lagree walks us through the move, saying, "Attach a resistance band to a door at the bottom via a mount—or wrap it around the foot of a table—then stand in front of and facing the door, with your right leg forward and left leg back. Hold the cables/bands with both hands, and as you lunge down, pull on the cables with both arms by moving the elbows to the ribs. Keep the torso in a vertical position." Perform 10 to 15 reps on both legs.