Strength training is an important part of overall fitness. In fact, the CDC recommends muscle-strengthening exercises two or more days a week if you’re 65 years of age or older, are generally fit, and have no limiting health conditions. Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a new fitness program.
Here, expert Jane Adams offers some upper and lower body strength training exercises you can do in the comfort and convenience of your home. A highly-trained, certified yoga teacher with a special interest in healthy ageing, Jane has produced DVDs, including “Yoga for Seniors with Jane Adams” (for people 70 and over) and “Gentle Yoga with Jane Adams” (for people aged 40 – 70).
Four exercises from Jane Adams
The only piece of equipment needed for these four exercises is a sturdy chair with a firm seat and upright back, such as a dining table chair.
Standing heel and toe lifts: These will strengthen your feet, ankles, calves and shins, and improve balance. Stand behind the chair with your fingertips resting lightly on the chair back. Have your feet hip-width apart and parallel to each other. Come up high onto your toes so that you feel your calves working, and balance for 1 – 2 seconds. Then come down and rock back briefly onto your heels, trying to lift and spread your toes. Go up and down six to 10 times, or until you are pleasantly tired.
Standing leg lifts to the front, side and back: These will strengthen your hips and thighs and improve balance. Stand to the right side of your chair, with your left hand resting on the chair back. Simultaneously, lift your right arm and leg straight out in front of you, pausing for 1 – 2 seconds, feeling the front of your thigh and hip working, then lower back down. Then simultaneously lift your right arm and leg straight out to the side, pausing for 1 – 2 seconds, feeling the side of your hip and thigh working. Lower back down. Then simultaneously lift your right arm and leg straight back behind you, feeling the back of your thigh and buttocks working. Then stand to the left side of your chair and repeat with the left arm and leg. If you like, repeat the entire sequence. Try to maintain a very light touch on the chair.
Upper arm, upper back and shoulder strengthener: These will strengthen your upper arms, shoulders, upper back and chest, and help improve posture. Sit upright and tall on your chair. Bring your arms out to the sides with your elbows bent at 90 degrees, and forearms straight up and down (your two arms forming a “goal post” shape). Press your arms straight back, so that you feel the backs of your arms and shoulders and upper back working, and your chest muscles stretching. Then bring your arms forward and press your elbows and forearms together, feeling your chest muscles working. Do six to 10 repetitions, or until pleasantly tired.
Shoulder rotations: These will strengthen and increase range-of-motion in the shoulders. Sit upright on your chair. Bring your arms into the “goal post” shape (see above). Keeping your upper arm fairly stationary in space, rotate your shoulders so that your hands and wrists go straight back. Then rotate your shoulders so that your hands and wrists come forward and then point down (upside down goal post shape). Do six to 10 repetitions, or until pleasantly tired.