Strength, balance, and mobility are the basic functions you need to move well, well into old age. They support your independent life and enable you to maintain a better quality of life.
Any activities you love and need require a level of strength, mobility, and stability. Everything from gardening to walking, driving to climbing have you on your feet.
If you’ve been leading rather than a sedentary lifestyle, it’s time to restore your strength.
Exercises like strength training are essential as you age.
They help make your muscle stronger while working on your balance, stability, and mobility. They also help you correct posture, reduce back pain, and prevent injury.
Strengthening exercises are muscle and bone growth stimulants.
They effectively prevent osteoporosis, a condition that affects over 40 million people over the age of 50.
The frequency recommended for strength training is at least twice a week. This weekly exercise helps you avoid muscle loss and restore your mobility, balance, and strength.
In your strength training regimen, it’s important to focus on exercises that work on the whole body.
Moves that promote flexibility and cardio can also enhance your basic functions.
These are five movements that will help you accomplish everything I just described. Aim at performing 3-4 sets of the following exercises, using the reps noted. When your form breaks, stop the exercise and rest.
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1. Dumbbell Squat
The dumbbell squat is one of the best compound exercises there is.
It extensively reaches all your lower body muscles while working your core, back, and abs.
Adding a pair of dumbbells also promotes healthy muscle growth and stimulates your muscles even more.
It’s a great strength-adding exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels.
The squat primarily targets your hamstrings, glutes, hips, and core. Those muscles are all essential in you moving well in your golden years.
They keep your legs not only strong but functional and your glutes and hips healthy. They also have a real-life application as the squat moves mimic the movement of sitting down and getting up.
For healthy aging, the dumbbell squat is one move you never want to miss.
Here is how to perform a dumbbell squat.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest them at your sides. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your back straight and tighten your core. Hinge your hips back and lower yourself into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Don’t let your knees pass your toes and keep your chest up as you perform.
- With control, extend your hips and press through your feet to come up to the starting position. That’s one rep. Complete 2-3 sets of 10 reps.
2. Dumbbell Deadlift
The dumbbell Romanian deadlift is an essential exercise for building strength in your posterior chain. The posterior chains include your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. Training these muscles is vital in keeping the back healthy and strong for healthy aging.
This move also engages your core muscles, so you’ll build strength and stability there too.
How to do a dumbbell Romanian deadlift:
- Stand with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your hips with palms facing in.
- Keeping the spine in a neutral position and squeezing shoulder blades together, start hinging the hips back.
- Begin by lowering the dumbbells in front of the shins, keeping them close to the body as possible. Once they pass the knees, do not allow the hips to sink further.
- Pause for a second at the bottom and drive through your heels to return to the starting position and squeeze your glutes at the top. Be sure to maintain a neutral spine as you come up.
The pushup is one essential bodyweight exercise to add to your routine as you get older. It not only works nearly all your muscles and involves the entire body, but it’s also a great way to train for strength.
In a regular pushup, it’s said you press through more than half your body weight. That’s a lot of weight you are forced to work with when performing pushups.
The load is placed mostly on your arms, shoulders, abs, and core, but your glutes and legs also get the weight.
To press that much weight, your body recruits more muscles to the task, making your body stronger.
The pushup is suitable for people of all fitness. But if you have a hard time performing the regular pushup, try the kneeling variation.
Here is how to perform a pushup:
- Get on all fours on a yoga mat. Position your hands slightly wider than the shoulder-width apart. Keep a slight bent on your elbows.
- Extend your legs back, so they form a straight line from your head to your heels. Position your feet so they are close to each other.
- Balance your body on your hands and toes.
- Brace your core and glutes. Bend your elbows to lower your chest down towards the mat until you almost touch the mat.
- Contract your chest muscles, and press through your hands to return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat 2-3 sets of 6-10 reps.
4. Dumbbell Rows
The dumbbell row exercise is a muscle-building move for your back and arms. It’s also one move that has you hinge at your hips, making you work your glutes and hamstrings while your upper body is hard at work.
It’s primarily an upper body-focused exercise that recruited muscles beyond the back and arms.
Keeping your back muscles becomes particularly important as you age. They are the main spine stabilizing muscles, maintaining the health of your spine and posture. This helps prevent nagging back pain and curving of your back in the future.
Rows are also functional. In the everyday life, you need the strength and mobility to lift heavy items like grocery bags.
This exercise helps you excel at those basic functions in a healthy way.
Here is how to perform a dumbbell row.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest them at your side, with palms facing in.
- Tighten your abs, core, and glutes, and hinge at your hips. Your knees should have a slight bend and your back spine should be flat with no curve.
- Inhale and pull the dumbbells up to your chest level, squeezing your shoulder blades.
- Keeping the dumbbells close to your body, lower them back to the starting position with control. That’s one rep. Perform 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps.
5. Body Saw
The body saw is a plank exercise variation that advances the original plank hold. It’s a move that focuses on the engagement of your abs and core but goes far beyond many ab exercises.
This exercise involves deep abdominal muscles that are at the core of keeping your body stable.
You perform the body saw in a plank position, except you move your body forward and back, just like a saw.
If you are tired of performing the same old plank hold, this is a great upgrade to the exercise.
As your body moves forward and back, you are generating an intense muscle contraction in your abs and core. It also recruits all adjacent muscles like the glutes, hips, and back to maintain the posture.
It’s one move that does far more work than it looks on the outside, and your body will surely feel it afterward.
For older adults, this is one exercise that promotes overall balance, stability, and strength. By working your core and back, it’s a great supporting move for your posture and back.
Here is how to perform a body saw.
- On a yoga mat, get into a plank position with your legs extended back and back flat. Tuck your elbows under your shoulders and keep your forearms straight.
- Squeeze your glutes and brace your core before you start. Drive the movement from your elbows and push your body back. Don’t let your back sag and maintain the proper plank form while moving your body. Pause at the end and return.
- If your back begins to arch, you’ve gone too far back. That’s one rep. Perform 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps. Rest in between and once your form starts to break, stop the exercise.