It is known that aging causes a gradual decline in strength and daily independence. But, we also know that resistance training improves strength at any age1. It is recommended that people over the age of 60 participate in regular, ongoing strengthening exercise to increase strength, quality of life, bone health, cognitive function, endurance and flexibility2. Activities like house work, gardening and sport may help to maintain strength but there are large benefits of adding specific exercise programs.
From the large amount of research on this topic we can provide you with recommendations on the most effective exercise programs. Firstly, it is important to check with your doctor that you are safe to exercise. Chronic heart and lung conditions for example may put restrictions on what you can do. Once you have the all clear you need to find something that works for you. A lot of people use gyms as a way of keeping up regular exercise in a supervised environment with all the equipment. Others take part in the strength for life classes or do their own programs at home. Wherever you are, the research suggests the most effective way to strengthen is with the following principles3.
Finally, we know that being supervised, or at least having help establishing a program, makes the training more effective. Most gyms will help get you started with a program but if you are concerned about injuries and being safe, we can help. We regularly set up tailored programs for people at the gym, their home or in our group exercise classes. Speak to our staff if you would like more information.
Intensity: aim for fatigue in 8-12 repetitions.
Sets: grade up to 2 sets
Frequency: 2-3 sessions/week. 4 strength sessions gives no extra benefits.
Program duration: ongoing! At least 4-6 weeks for small improvements.
Exercise Types: aim for a mix of functional movements. For example, squats are very important for getting out of a chair and up stairs. Bicep curls are important for lifting things at home. For general health it is also important to include aerobic exercise like walking or bike riding.