It's Never too Late: Tips for Seniors to Maintain Muscle

Posted by ComForCare on November 2, 2012 at 10:52 AM

WEIGHTLIFTER+RON+MILLARDAccording to a recent article, Dr. Charles Eugster, a 93-year-old British bodybuilder, began weightlifiting six years ago because he noticed he was “getting fat.” Admitting that he started working out “to turn the heads of the sexy young 70-year-old girls on the beach,” Eugster has been hitting the gym three or four times a week – even working with a former Mr. Universe. After 30 years as a dentist, Eugster wanted to get into better shape and stay healthy into his old age. And while his success story isn’t typical of an elderly man, I think this story shows us that it’s never too late to start exercising and taking care of our bodies. Also, having a goal and staying active like Eugster does incredible things to your mind and body. While it’s important to always ask your doctor before beginning any workout regime, even starting with a short walk a day will help you gain strength.

How to Gain and Maintain Strength While Aging

Here are a few other exercises from Hive Health Media you can do to maintain your muscle mass as you age:

  • Look for fun, low-impact exercises to minimize stress on the joints like the knees, hips, elbows and ankles. Walking is more low-impact than jogging or running. Dancing is more low-impact than running, as well, and can be a great deal of fun.  Carefully dancing or gently walking in place indoors when the weather is bad can be a great, safe way to exercise.
  • Look for exercises that increase flexibility and strength. Stretching is low-impact and can help with balance and flexibility, as well. Gentle yoga moves are also a good option for some people.
  • Don’t forget strength training. You don’t have to pump iron to get in a good strength training workout. Using resistance bands, even while just sitting in a chair, can increase arm strength and flexibility. Simply pulling against the bands while holding an end in each hand, done while watching television is great exercise. Or you can hook the bank under a foot and do curls or push your foot against it, which works both the leg muscles and the arms.
  • Aerobic dancing can be fun and great exercise as long as you avoid the jumps and intense twisting movements. If you’re working out with a DVD or in a class, simply don’t jump when the instructor does. Make some other small movement instead.
  • Most exercises can be adapted to be more low-impact if you find you enjoy a particular movement.  A mini-trampoline, for instance, can actually be a great, safe workout if used properly, with no jumping necessary.  If you don’t have balance issues, you can carefully step onto such a trampoline, hang onto the bar, and lightly bend the knees while pressing with the feet. You’ll be making a bouncing movement, without your feet ever leaving the surface of the trampoline. This is a great resistance exercise, as well as a cardiovascular one. If you enjoy this, do it only a couple of minutes at a time at first, until you’re sure you can tolerate it and maintain your balance after getting off.
  • Consider water aerobics and exercise. This is one of the most low-impact forms of exercise available. The buoyancy of the water cushions the joints and makes the movements smooth. If arthritis is a problem that prevents you from enjoying other forms of exercise, then try working out in a pool by simply walking through the water or doing other movements.

Topics: Aging

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