Studies have shown that even 90- to 100-year-old nursing home residents can benefit from a regular program of strength building exercises. These are the benefits of strength training:
- Better balance. Strength training can help improve balance - a key issue for the elderly who are at risk for falls. Particularly, hip muscle strength reduces the risk of a fall. If you can't rise out of a chair without using your hands, you need to strengthen your hip muscles.
- Faster responses. Exercise can increase the ability of muscles to respond quickly and efficiently, which may also play a role in preventing falls.
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises help build and maintain bone mass, reducing the likelihood of osteoporosis.
- Improved quality of life and mental alertness. Studies show that people who exercise regularly enjoy a higher quality of life and increased mental alertness.
Even patients who have minor mental impairments after a stroke have shown small improvements in thinking with exercise.
Start off easy
Beginning a strength training program does not have to be complicated! Start off with an easy routine; starting with a difficult routine is associated with a higher dropout rate among those who start exercising. The goal is to increase physical activity.
- Walking around the block, or taking longer walks at the local shopping mall, is a good start.
- Swimming is also an excellent choice as part of an exercise program.
- Exercise with hand-held weights or training machines build strength. Common household items (like small canned goods) can be used instead of hand weights.
Ask your doctor or physical therapist to prescribe an exercise program that matches your abilities.