Best Exercises for Older Adults and Aging Muscles
As you age, you inevitably start to lose muscle mass as part of a normal aging process. Studies show that people between the ages 50 and 70 lose approximately 30 percent of their strength. After 40, most people lose approximately one percent of muscle mass. If you don’t do anything to offset the loss of muscle you end up with sarcopenia and the results can be crippling and even deadly.
There is plenty research linking the benefits of exercise and healthy aging. Older adults should focus on activities that helps them maintain their independence. With so many options out there, what are the best exercises to focus on as you age?
- Lifting Weights: Increasing and/or maintaining your strength is priority. Without strong muscles it’s hard to carry out even the most basic functions of everyday life, including getting yourself on and off the toilet. Whether you use dumbbells, bands or your own body weight, you have to create resistance. If you progressively add weight to your workouts, even better. It’s widely recommended that you incorporate two or three strength training days into your weekly workout routine StrongPath Founder, Fred Bartlit, affirms that leg strength is critical and is confident it’s the reason why he skis better and faster and stumbles less when walking.
- Swimming: Coupled with strength training, research shows that aerobic exercise is beneficial to improving cardiovascular health, which leads to a longer and better life. For older adults, swimming is a top choice since its easier on the joints and because you are using every large muscle in the body to move you through the water, it’s one of the most highly effective exercises you can do. Doing laps can be as intense as a HIIT session or you can take it at a steady state. Either way, the resistance of the water is helping you get strong.
- High-Intensity Interval Training. Otherwise known as HIIT, there are significant benefits to doing this kind of exercise, especially if you are an older adult, according to Mayo Clinic researchers. HIIT fires up your metabolism, strengthens your heart, improves insulin sensitivity and helps mitochondrial health, according to a study in Cell Metabolism. All of these benefits help counteract the effects of aging muscles.
To keep motivated make sure to engage exercise that you enjoy and mix it up, if you want. A combination of these exercises will maximize benefits as they will keep you physically active in different ways, using different muscles and improving your overall state of fitness that will help you live a longer, more fulfilling and independent life. Before you embark upon any exercise routine, please check with your doctor or healthcare professional.