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The importance of strength exercises for seniors

Written by Shelley Clark, Exercise Physiologist with integratedliving

Want to stay healthy, strong and living independently? Try these strength and balance exercises to prevent falls and help maintain your independence.

Keeping your strength, balance and mobility is crucial to maintaining your independence and health in older life. Here, we look at some of the most important exercises you can do to stay well, strong and living the independent life you want.

The most important movement for a person over the age of 65 years is to maintain getting up and out of a chair. The reason being that this also relates to getting out of bed, getting off the toilet seat and getting out of a car. All the things required to remain independent.

When someone gets to the stage of being unable to get out of a chair, they will usually soon require 24-hour care and a nursing home.

This exercise will help you maintain this independence-giving skill:

Sit to Stand in Chair

Why:

To strengthen your leg muscles and builds muscle endurance. Being able to stand up from a chair is important for staying independent.

How to:

  1. Place a sturdy chair (with arm handles if needed) against a wall.
  2. Sit in the chair.
  3. Stand up straight and tall.
  4. Sit back down with control – do not fall into the chair. Use your hands if you need to. Your aim is to be able to do this exercise without using your hands.

As the weeks progress, if you are using your hands then aim to place less and less pressure on them while doing this movement.

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Another important movement to maintain in our older years for falls prevention is confident walking. A confident walker stands tall, looks forward, picks up their feet and lengthens their stride. This is in contrast to someone who doesn’t walk confidently and instead shuffle walks, looks down and drags their feet. People generally lose confidence in their walking after a fall, and take up shuffle walking to ensure they have two feet on the ground at all times.

The sad irony is that people who shuffle walk or don’t walk confidently have a high risk of falling. Hence, the importance of strength exercises to prevent falls and injuries.

To keep your legs strong and able to walk, try these calf exercises.

Calf Raises – Up on Toes

Why:

Increases strength of calves and range of motion in ankles. It also increases ankle strength and improves walking.

How to:

  1. Stand behind a chair or at the kitchen bench.
  2. Hold the chair or bench with both hands.
  3. Stand up straight.
  4. Lift your heels off the ground, so you are standing on your tippy toes.
  5. Lower your heels back to the ground.

Repeat until you are tired.

Balance is another paramount concern as we get older, with falls being the number-one reason for hospital admissions in people over the age of 65 in Australia. There are a lot of reasons for poor balance, including loss in strength and reaction time.

To help improve your upper-body strength, try these Wall Push-Ups.

Wall Push-Ups

Why:

Increases upper-body strength.

How to:

  1. Place your hands shoulder-width apart, and at should height, on a wall.
  2. Lower yourself towards the wall, then push yourself away from the wall.
  3. Keep your body straight during this movement, lowering your whole body rather than just the shoulders.
  4. Repeat this movement until you are tired.

As this exercise gets easier, you can move towards doing a push-up off the kitchen bench.

The strength exercises featured here are just some of those that older people can do at home to increase strength, balance and mobility. Download our Home Exercise Booklet below, or get in touch about the Wellness programs we offer to improve your strength and balance.

As our gift to you, you can download this Home Exercise Booklet, packed full of exercises to keep you strong at home. 

Download Home Exercise Booklet.