Another helpful stretch starts in the same standing position, but this time, clasp your hands in front. Turn your hands so the palms face the ground and bring your arms up to shoulder height. Press your palms outward, away from the body, and hold the move for about 30 seconds, release, and repeat. This exercise benefits the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
It’s a simple exercise—you push your hips back, as if you’re about to sit in a chair, and then straighten your hips and knees as you return to the standing position—with countless variations. If you belong to a gym, you’ve probably seen a bunch of them, starting with the impossibly strong young men who squat with hundreds of pounds on their backs. Obviously, that’s not the right choice for you. (Or for anybody who isn’t young and injury-free.)
As you age, you may notice the tendency to be able to do less and less on your own. But, things don’t have to be that way. If you can learn to strengthen your muscles through resistance training, and you can apply that training in a way that mimics the movements you make on a daily basis and that mirrors the activities you enjoy, you will be better able to continue a normal lifestyle as you age.
While the bicep curl above strengthens the muscle on the front of your arm, tricep exercises focus on the backside of your upper arm — an area that tends to get flabby with age and lack of use. If either of these exercises hurt your elbows, then don't do them. As the triceps tend to be weaker than the biceps, you may want to use a lighter weight to start; maybe as light as two pounds instead of five. For the first tricep exercise:
There's no need to try and make up for years of inactivity overnight. In fact, you could get injured or quickly become burned out by doing that. Instead, start slowly and build up gradually. If that means starting with just five minutes of walking, then that's what you ought to do. In fact, one of my favorite plans to recommend for getting started is the five-minutes-out, five-minutes-back plan. Just like it sounds, you walk out for five minutes, turn around, and walk back. That's it...10 minutes of walking, and off you go about your day. If you feel ambitious, you can do seven and a half or even 10 minutes out and back, and add some stretching when you finish if you like. One of the best ways to get motivated and stay that way is to set goals. I suggest that you set a weekly exercise plan, starting today for the week coming up. Write down what day(s) of the week, what time of day, minutes of activity, and the activity that you'll do. Be as specific and realistic as possible, and remember that it's not how much you do when you get started but that you simply get started. Keep setting and reviewing your goals weekly for at least three months. That way you'll be sure to stay on track and build exercise into your life as a habit.
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Yes, some seniors can be frail and have low energy reserves but most of us will respond well to moderate sessions of weight training. Numerous studies have shown that strength training for seniors and other exercises for seniors done regularly not only builds up bone and muscle but counteracts the weakness and frailty that usually comes with aging.
For resistance exercise: You don't need to pump iron in a gym to do resistance exercise. Of course, if you want to go to the gym, I wouldn't discourage you. But if you prefer to do it at home, you can. I recommend exercise tubing if you're looking for a simple but effective way to do resistance exercise at home. Exercise tubing is inexpensive and versatile (you can do lots of very different exercises with them) and they are a great way to get started with resistance exercise. You can start with a set of four for about $20. They come in colors to denote the tension. If you order them, make sure to order the strap that allows you to attach the tube to a door, and if you want to work your legs, ask for leg straps. Here are some vendors that sell them:
As you age, testosterone levels can decline. Contrary to popular belief, both men and women have testosterone. Believe it or not, testosterone plays a large part in maintaining your long-term health, and keeping levels high is important. If testosterone is too low, not only does it affect sex drive, but you can experience reduced energy as well as increased depression, aggression, and other mood disorders, along with an increased loss of muscle mass. One of the ways you can keep those testosterone levels high is by adding regular resistance training to your regimen.
Squatting exercises increase hip flexibility and strengthen your hip flexors and quadriceps, which will improve both your walking ability and your ability to stand up from a seated position. It also improves your overall balance and stability, reducing your risk of falling. For the beginner's version, stand up using a chair for support, and perform a standing partial squat as demonstrated in the ElderGym video above.
Remember, you are never too old to start exercising, and strength training in particular only becomes more important with age. My mom is an excellent example of this. She didn't take up strength training until the age of 74! Now, several years later, she's a testament to the fact that you can gain significant improvements in strength, range of motion, balance, bone density, and mental clarity, even if you get a late start.
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