Many people exercise, and they do it for a variety of reasons.
Most tend to focus on cosmetic reasons, but the No. 1 thing that I’m interested in as an exercise professional is a functional ability — the ability to carry out everyday tasks with ease. You name it: walking, getting up from a chair, lifting, climbing stairs or participating in your favorite activities.
Those most affected by losses in functional ability are the elderly. However, with targeted strength training, they can see a rapid reversal of this condition.
Strength training stimulates skeletal muscular strengthening. All reasonable expectations from exercise are accessed through the skeletal muscles — the only window into the body — by strengthening them. Expectations should include:
- Improvements in bone density and balance
- Vascular and metabolic efficiency
- Joint stability
- Muscular strength
The elderly are just as capable of performing productive exercise as anyone and stand to gain as much, if not more, from strength training.
Research has shown that exercise programs for elderly patients have a role in preventing illness and injury, limiting functional loss and disability, and alleviating the course and symptoms of existing cardiac, pulmonary, musculoskeletal and metabolic disorders.
Of course, exercise safety is paramount when discussing training programs for elderly populations.
It is crucial to abide by preliminary exercise considerations. Attempting to stimulate physical improvements would not be worthwhile if someone gets hurt doing it.
Strength Training 101 for the Elderly
- Choose only one to two days per week to do strength training. All of the “good stuff” happens while we recover from exercise, and this can take three to seven days. Recovery periods may need to be even longer as we age or become more advanced in our exercise performance.
- Choose the minimum number of exercises that produce the greatest effect.