Doing regular strength exercise is probably one of the most overlooked Physical Activity guidelines – in particular by older adults or those with health concerns or conditions.
Doing cardiovascular exercise like walking is easy and accessible. Strength exercises need equipment and know-how and if you didn’t do this type of exercise as a young person, then it can be quite a daunting concept! Add in a condition or two like a sore back or knees then it becomes seemingly impossible.
The thing about strength training is that anyone can do it, anywhere, with anything – but it takes some know-how and motivation to get them done. You don’t necessarily have to go to a gym – unless of course, you want to!
Why is Strength Exercise so Valuable?
I always say, “Strength training is the Fountain of Youth”! It prevents the age-related (read – inactivity related) loss of muscle mass and bone mineral density, improves balance and, our ability to stay on top of our feet. More importantly, it keeps us in tune with our bodies and what they are experiencing.
When we train regularly we know what our bodies are capable of when working around the house or garden. Knowing our boundaries means that we can avoid painful periods of recovery after a big day!
If you find yourself thinking that I “should” be doing some more strength training the answer is always “YES!”.
“What” and “how” are the next questions. As the answer differs from person to person consulting an Exercise Physiologist in your community is a great first step! Our model of care means that we teach you how to exercise safely, without exacerbating pain or other symptoms. We provide a supportive environment for you to learn these new skills and work on refining your technique.
What could I start Today?
In the meantime – try these three strength exercises around the home:
1. Sitting to standing – this works on your leg strength. If you can’t stand from your chair without using your arms then you definitely need to practice this exercise to build up your strength. Start by doing 8-12 in a row, then add another set of 8-12 in a row, after a short rest period.
2. Bench Push ups – hands on the edge of the kitchen bench at shoulder width apart – lower chest to the bench and push away again. Repeat 8-12 times and add the second set when you find that is getting too easy.
3. Calf Raises – Holding onto the kitchen bench for balance, try rising onto your toes and lifting your heels up high, and then lower down slowly. Repeat 8-12 times and when you can add a second set of 8-12.
This really is just the beginning! When doing strength exercises you want to work the whole body, not just one or two muscle groups. That’s why a variety of exercises for each workout is ideal. You can do a strength workout all in one bout, which is great to get your intensity up. Otherwise doing small amounts spread out throughout the day also works well. Of course, you need to do your exercises at least 2-3 times per week! You can see how it can be different for each person!
To find out what strength program would be most suitable for you – book a consult with one of our amazing Exercise Physiologists today!