Everywhere you go these days you hear or read about the importance of strength training for seniors. But what is it really? I like to always go to science.
Strength training definition: improving muscular strength by gradually increasing the ability to resist force by using weights or machines. The most important part of this definition is that their needs to be resistance and it needs to be ongoing. Just lifting a leg off the bed is not strength training. A weight needs to be added to increase strength.
What are some signs that an older adult has poor leg strength?
- Difficulty walking including; shuffling feet, bent knees and trunk.
- Needing a walker
- Difficulty getting out of chairs
- Need help with transfers
How does an older adult increase strength?
Leg-strength training is most beneficial when completed while lying flat on the bed or floor and using weights. We have found that when older adults are able to lift four pounds while doing four specific lying-down exercises, that their mobility and balance improves. This process takes 10 minutes and only needs to be completed two times per week.
Strength Training Misconceptions
There are many misconceptions about strength training for older adults. 1. Walking, swimming, biking, climbing stairs or water aerobics are not leg strengthening exercises. They are great exercises for heart health, but you must have a certain amount of leg strength to be able to do any of those activities. 2. Leg strength is not permanent. Unfortunately, people start losing strength within three to five days from their last weight training.