Reap health benefits from twice-a-week resistance training.
Story: Jaime Brenkus
Numerous studies link strength training to better brain function.
Resistance training that works specific muscle groups is an important aspect of fitness, helping increase muscle mass, slow down or halt muscle loss, slow bone loss, and maintain or increase joint flexibility. Working out with weights or bands or anything that provides an overload to your muscle leads to a more functional older adult.
If you follow the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, active aging adults should participate in resistance training at least twice a week. This would greatly improve your memory, attention span, problem-solving and decision-making—all which lead to a sharper mind.
Two quick exercises you can do right now are standups and wall pushups.
Wall pushups are just like regular pushups you do on the floor, except these you perform against a wall. Start with 15 reps. Next, do your standups. Sit in a chair and get up without any help from the chair’s arms. Hit your buns on the chair each time. Do 15 reps.
Unlike cardiovascular exercises, which tend to come more naturally, strength training requires a person pay attention to their form, count their repetitions or remember what body part to work on, all while stimulating the brain—which could stave off dementia.
For a well-rounded mental program, include balance exercises, which can help you stay independent by helping you avoid the disabilities that result from falling. This gives you confidence. Try this one: Standing on your right leg, hold on to a chair with your left hand. Slowly reach with your right hand and try to touch your right foot 15 times. Then switch to the opposite side.
Keep flexible. Stretching exercises can give you more freedom of movement, which allows you to be more active during your senior years, meaning you don’t have to depend on anyone else.
Here are eight great moves to increase your flexibility that you can do while still in bed:
Knees to chest.
Grab both knees and bring them up to your chest. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
Bicycle the legs.
Do this for 15 seconds.
Keep your leg straight and at 90 degrees, and gently pull your leg toward you. Hold for a count of 10.
Keep one leg straight on the bed while you place your opposite leg gently across and over the straight leg. Do two each side.
At chest level, crisscross your arms back and forth. Do 15 reps.
Lying on your stomach, bring your opposite arm and opposite leg up at the same time. Hold for a count of five and alternate sides. Do five each side.
On your hands and knees, hump your back up and down slowly. Do five of these.
Sitting up in bed, bring one arm up and over to the side. Hold for five counts and switch sides.
About the writer → Jaime Brenkus (exercisewithjaime.com) is a fitness coach for Evergreen Wellness, connecting older adults with a team of experts who help people take the necessary steps to living a more fulfilled life. Jaime is a nationally recognized fitness expert best known for revolutionizing the fitness industry with his “8-Minute Abs” video series in the 1990s.