The Best Exercises To Regain Strength as You Age, Expert Says
So many changes happen to your body as you age, and some are easier to accept than others. There are the obvious things like dealing with gray hair and wrinkles. But there's also quite a bit more that's going on inside. The greatest gift you can give yourself each day? Start performing the best exercises to regain strength as you age, as recommended by an expert.
One huge concern with aging has to do with your bones. They start to diminish, both in density and size, according to Mayo Clinic. This deficit causes a loss in strength. Your balance, stability, and coordination are also compromised as you age, and you're at greater risk of falling and experiencing fractures. To add insult to injury, this "shrinkage" can literally cause you to lose height as you get older. What is happening?!
Eat This, Not That! spoke with Dr. Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM, the Director of Medical Content & Education at Ro and a certified personal trainer, who explains, "Losing muscle mass as you age is a normal part of the aging process known as sarcopenia." Dr. Bohl adds, "Sarcopenia occurs for a few reasons, including declining hormone levels and having fewer neurons that communicate with the muscles. Exercising can also be more difficult as you age because blood circulation and oxygen delivery to the tissues aren't as efficient. For example, if you have atherosclerosis, your blood vessels are more narrow and less flexible."
Related: 5 Exercise Habits to Slow Muscle Aging, Trainer Reveals
What are the benefits of having strong muscles as you age?
Keeping your muscles strong is critical for so many reasons. Dr. Bohl explains that exercise helps improve your blood flow and insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, and give your immune system a boost. With consistent exercise, you can remain healthier for a longer period of time. Not only will you increase bone strength to help prevent osteoporosis and fractures, as discussed earlier, but you will also strengthen the muscles around your joints—like your knee joints—helping stabilize them. This in turn can be highly beneficial for arthritis pain. Lastly, you need strong muscles for balance, which is why balance and strength training are key to minimizing falls and fractures.
Although this may sound a bit grim, there's bright news on the horizon. Now that you've learned what you can expect as you age in the future, there's no time like the present to get up and active. There are many easy steps you can take, including adding the right amount of calcium and vitamin D to your diet, Mayo Clinic reports. Also, cut out smoking and lower your alcohol consumption. But the most important ingredient to the recipe of aging well is exercise! Read on to learn the absolute best exercises to regain strength as you age.
The best workout to help rebuild strength as you get older is resistance training.
Gear up for some resistance training exercises. Dr. Bohl suggests, "One place to start is with water aerobics, which adds resistance to your movements. Then, out of the pool, selectorized weight machines can be a good entry point into weightlifting." Every machine you use will activate one particular muscle or a small combination of muscles. Dr. Bohl instructs you to start with low weight and repetitions, and slowly increase to higher levels.
If you feel you're ready to perform a total-body workout, a great routine is circuit training, rotating through each machine. "A complete routine would include a machine for your biceps (like an arm curl), triceps (like an arm extension), shoulders (like an overhead press), chest (like a forward push), upper back (like a row machine), and then a selection of leg machines (for the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves). Leg exercises are important both for coordination (to prevent falls) and to stabilize the hip and knee joints, which may develop arthritis in older age," Dr. Bohl points out.
It's also essential to strengthen your core muscles, as these muscles help support your spine and assist in maintaining good posture. Dr, Bohl shares, "There are many different floor exercises that can be done for the core (like planks and crunches)." To improve your coordination and balance, exercises like pilates, tai chi, and yoga, are great choices to add to your routine.