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Active Aging

Why You Should Incorporate Weightlifting Into Your Routine

Weightlifting for active aging adults is a crucial key to overall physical fitness that should not be skipped. Light cardiovascular exercise like walking is essential for seniors, but weight lifting is also a vital part of any routine

Regular weight training for older adults can lead to several long-lasting health benefits, including improvements in muscle mass and quantity, increased metabolism, increased dynamic and static balance, and even helping fight type 2 diabetes. Plus, issues that many adults begin experiencing when they hit their 40s or 50s—like joint stiffness, back pain, and trouble sleeping—can all be combated with weight training. 

As you age, there are a few things to keep in mind to build and maintain the best muscle mass possible without overexerting yourself. As always, be sure to consult with your doctor before starting any new fitness routine. In the meantime, below are several insights into how to incorporate weight training into your fitness routine.

Start Slow

If strength exercises aren’t something you’re used to doing, don’t jump too quickly into it by taking on more than you can to prevent injury and strained muscles. To get started, make sure not to perform strength training more than three times per week to give your muscles a rest and work on other exercises like cardio. Start off by using weight machines to build proper form. This will allow for a smoother transition to using free weights when you’re ready. Work with a personal trainer to reduce the risk of injury. You shouldn’t feel much pain while lifting weights, but you can expect to feel some soreness the next day.

50s

If you’re in your 50s, be aware of the risk factors that can come with your age, including spiking heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and higher risk for joint pain and internal bleeding. People in this age category need to focus on low-intensity workouts for continued strength and endurance to avoid hurting themselves. Use lighter weights and maximize repetition for the best results. Instead of lifting the heaviest thing possible just one or two times, find a more manageable weight and focus on how many times you can lift it as you gradually get stronger over time. Additionally, pay attention to your blood pressure as you lift. Breathe out as you lift the weight, and breathe in as you release it. Lift at a moderate pace and pause between repetitions.

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60s

Once you hit your 60s, start focusing on exercises that will improve balance, stability, and overall ensure longevity of mobility. These can include squats, leg lifts, and lunges. Rowing machines are also a great way to work on your muscles in a seated position. Stretching becomes more important at this age, so be sure to stretch all the major muscle groups after your workouts. Be more careful with how much weight you take on as you get older, but at the same time, don’t be shy to step outside your comfort zone. To make gains and get stronger, you need to keep challenging yourself.

70s

Don’t let the number of your age tell you what you are and aren’t capable of: Weightlifting can still be done well into your 70s, especially if you’ve been taking care of your body in your earlier adult life. Your muscle mass will likely have considerably declined by your 70s, but you can still build muscle with regular lifting. Balance lower-intensity aerobic exercise like walking, swimming, or riding a stationary bicycle with safe strength training like lifting dumbbells and resistance bands to continue working on balance and agility. At this age, check with your doctor before starting any weight training to see what they recommend for you and your body. It’s also not too late to try new activities like pilates or martial arts to mix up your routine.

Overall, keep in mind that your body most likely won’t be able to do everything it could in your younger adult years, and that’s perfectly ok. The most important thing to remember is that moving your body in any way and in any capacity is a good thing, and weightlifting is an important tool to incorporate into your lifestyle for overall physical wellbeing as you get older to keep up with whatever life throws your way.

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Active Aging

Exercising with Resistance Bands: The Simple Yet Effective Moves You Need

Strength training is an integral part of staying healthy at any age but especially after 50. Traditional weights can put stress on your joints, however, and it’s often unrealistic to own a complete set of free weights at home! Fortunately, there’s an alternative tool that allows you to build strength and flexibility right at home without placing additional strain on your joints – resistance bands! Here’s everything you need to know to get started with this must-have workout equipment.

What are Resistance Bands?

Resistance bands, sometimes called exercise bands, stretch bands, or fitness bands, are loops of rubber (with or without handles) used in strength training. The bands come in various styles and resistance levels so that you can change your needs as you progress through workouts. Resistance bands can help you build flexibility and range of motion alongside muscle strength.

The Benefits of Bands

There’s a reason why many fitness experts recommend exercise bands as one of the top items of gear for everyone, including seniors! Although these bands are small, they add a lot to your routine; their portability and small profile are the first benefits – you don’t need a dedicated exercise room to use them, and you can carry them along to a fitness class or on vacation! Another benefit? Because they’re fairly simple, resistance bands are inexpensive and easy to purchase from various stores. Unlike traditional weights, bands can help you improve your range of motion by providing tension during stretches and strength training, and they don’t add stress to your joints. Lastly, exercise bands are a great workout tool because they always force your muscles and brain to engage in slightly different ways. They never pull in quite the same direction or with quite the same force, so your whole body stays engaged and energized during the entire workout.

Which Bands to Buy

There are many kinds of resistance bands, so if it’s your first time buying this workout equipment, it’s always best to consult a professional. However, if you’re buying on your own, remember to start slow – you can always increase the difficulty, but you don’t want to hurt yourself by doing too much too soon. Resistance bands come in various styles: thin bands with handles, loop bands (that look like giant rubber bands), therapy bands, etc. Each style then comes in various resistance levels; a basic rule of thumb is that a thicker band has a higher resistance, so opt for thinner versions if you’re just starting. It’s also a good idea to have several different bands for different uses: arm workouts and moves that require a lot of big motions will use bands with lower resistance, while leg workouts and small-motion movements can handle higher resistance. The good news? Most bands will indicate their resistance level to make purchasing and using very straightforward.

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Seated Exercises

If you’re just starting with exercise bands, try these beginning seated exercises; start with a light resistance band, and then increase the band resistance once you feel ready. The first set of exercises are for your arms and chest, so make sure to complete a warm-up to get your body moving. After going through the chest press and lateral raise, you’ll find that you’re getting both a strength and flexibility workout! The resistance bands make it possible to stay seated while providing tension for your arms. Next, move to your legs (and be sure to warm them up!). You’ll find that the lateral moves really target your legs and hips, while the leg press is a great way to strengthen your ankles for added daily movement stability.

Standing Exercises

If you feel stable completing standing exercises, try these three resistance band moves to improve your strength and flexibility and challenge yourself beyond the seated exercises. As with all activities, make sure to start slow and increase the difficulty only as you’re ready. To improve your posture and upper-body strength, scapular retraction is important. The scissor toe taps target your hip flexibility and strength, both key to maintaining core strength as you age. 

Finally, the lateral crab walk is designed to improve balance and strength in your leg muscles.

If you’re looking for a low-cost, accessible, and flexible way to add more strength training to your routine, there’s no better tool than resistance bands!