As you grow older, an active life is more important than ever. Even as the world tells you it’s time to retire, relax, and take it easy, your body is craving for you to keep moving. And though you may be ready to retire from your 9-5, don’t hang up your walking shoes quite yet. The truth is that if you really want to enjoy these golden years and get more quality time from them, your best strategy is to exercise regularly.
In an article entitled Active Seniors Enjoy Life More, the American Council on Exercise reports, “As you grow older…regular exercise can help boost energy, maintain your independence, and manage symptoms of illness or pain. Exercise can even reverse some of the symptoms of aging.” Wow! Are you sold yet? But wait, there’s more. While taking your daily walk remains a crucial piece of this exercise pie, getting in your strength training reps is the part that will truly make the difference in your well-being. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recommends strength training for most older adults to help lessen the symptoms of the following chronic conditions:
- Back pain
The best news of all is that reaping the rewards of strength training doesn’t need to involve strenuous workouts or trips to the gym. The most simple, beneficial exercises can be done right in your own home. That’s not to say going to a gym or fitness center isn’t a good idea.
In fact, most facilities offer special classes for seniors along with a knowledgeable staff that can guide you through proper exercise techniques. However, this 20-minute workout can be done anywhere, anytime. All you need is a light pair of dumbbells (3-5 pounds to start, 8-10 pounds as you get stronger) and a good pair of shoes and you’re ready to find the new active you! For best results, find a friend or partner to take this challenge on with you. You will keep each other accountable and safe while you get younger together!
The Warm-Up: 4 Minutes
It is crucial for you to warm-up, particularly as you age. According to the American Heart Association, “A good warm-up dilates your blood vessels, ensuring that your muscles are well supplied with oxygen. By slowly raising your heart rate, the warm-up also helps minimize stress on your heart.”
Go through the following 4 warm-up moves for 1 minute each without resting in between.
Jog in Place – 1 Minute
Considering the needs of an aging body, if low impact movement serves you better, just march with high knees in place for 1 minute.
Punching – 1 Minute
Punching is a great way to warm up the upper body and get the blood pumping all over. Perform for 1 minute.
A) Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart and bend knees slightly. Tighten the core to keep your center still.
B) Punch out one arm at a time at a steady pace.
A) Start standing with feet wider than shoulder distance apart and turn both feet in one direction allowing the hips to follow like you’re in a shallow lunge. The front knee is a 90-degree angle and the back heel lifted. Arms are in a guard position in front of the chest.
B) Drive the back knee up to hip height towards the hands and hands in towards the thigh. Return the foot to the floor and repeat.
Basic Squat – 1 Minute
Finish your warm up with the basic squat. Try to get your glutes to drop as low as possible to keep your hip flexors mobile and prevent you from taking on the old-age “shuffle” when you walk.
A) Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart. Your hips, knees, and toes should all be facing forward. (Hold dumbbells in hands to make it harder).
B) Bend your knees and extend your buttocks backward as if you are going to sit back into a chair. Make sure that you keep your knees on your toes and your weight in your heels. Rise back up.
The Workout – 15 Minutes
Go through the following exercises for the recommended number of repetitions. Click on the name of the exercise for a photo description if needed. Rest 1 minute between each exercise.
Squat Curl Knee Lift
A) Start in a squat position, weight back on heels and arms long next to side holding dumbbells.
B) Squeeze your glutes to press up and lift right knee as you curl the weights to your shoulders.
C) Slowly lower the weights back down and return to squat position. Repeat with the left knee.
Perform 8-12 per side then rest 1 minute.
Targets: biceps, glutes, quads
Shoulder Overhead Press
A) Start with feet hip distance apart. Bring elbows out to the side creating a goal post position with arms, dumbbells are at the side of the head, and abdominals are tight.
B) Press dumbbells slowly up until arms are straight. Slowly return to starting position with control. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Make it Harder: To work harder and improve balance, stand on one foot while performing half, then the other foot.
Perform 8-12 Repetitions. Rest 1 minute.
Targets: shoulders, biceps, back
Reverse Grip Double Arm Row
A) Start with legs together and sit back into slight squat engaging abdominals. Arms are in front of the body holding dumbbells at hip height with palms facing the ceiling.
B) Draw elbows back past hips gently hugging the side body so you feel lats and triceps engage and return forward with control.
Perform 8-12 Repetitions. Rest 1 minute.
Targets: triceps, back, shoulders
A) Kneel on the mat on all fours. Reach one arm long, draw in the abdominals, and extend the opposite leg long behind you.
B) Repeat on the other side.
Perform 8-10 per side. Move slow and steady, holding the arm and leg out momentarily before switching. Rest 1 minute
A) Lie on back with bent knees hip distance apart and feet flat on mat stacked under the knees.
B) Engage the core and squeeze your glutes as you lift your hips to a bridge. Hold, squeezing tight, and return to the mat with control.
Perform 8-12 Repetitions. Rest for 1 Minute.
Make it Harder: To increase leg strength and stability, try this exercise with one leg at a time. Lift the non-working leg into the air as you bridge up and down.
Targets: glutes, hamstrings
Kneeling Shoulder Tap Push Up
A) Start in a kneeling plank position with hands on the ground below shoulders and back extended long to the knees.
B) Lower chest to the floor keeping abs tight. As you push back up to kneeling plank tap right hand on the left shoulder then set it down.
C) Repeat the push-up but as you rise tap left hand on the right shoulder. Keep abs tight throughout and avoid the torso “tipping” to the side as you tap.
Perform 8-12 push-ups total. Rest 1 Minute.
Targets: arms, shoulders, core
A) Start lying face down on the mat. Lift abs away from the mat to engage them and slide the shoulders down the back. The head is lifted in a low hover. Your body is one long line.
B) Using your back muscles and core, lift the chest away from the mat into extension as you exhale. Think of lengthening from the crown of the head.
C) Inhale and return back down to the mat slowly getting longer through the spine as you return.
Perform 8-12 repetitions. Rest 1 minute.
Targets: back, core
Full Body Roll Up
A) Start lying on a mat with arms extended overhead, legs long, and feet flexed.
B) Inhale as you lift arms up and begin curling chin and chest forward. Exhale as you roll the entire torso up and over legs keeping abs engaged and reaching for toes.
C) Inhale as you were rolling your spine back down one vertebra at a time and exhale as the upper portion of the back lower and arms reach pack overhead. Repeat moving slowly and using the abdominals to lift and lower, not momentum.
Perform 8-10 roll-ups.
Targets: core, shoulders, back