Body Strength for Seniors

Every time we turn around, we hear about how important exercise is to every aspect of our health and well-being. This is especially important as we reach our senior years, when mobility becomes critical to continued independence. As we age, we tend to lose strength and flexibility, making it more difficult to perform everyday tasks. Below are a few simple exercises that can, when done regularly, help maintain strength and flexibility. Before you start:

  • See your doctor before you begin any exercise program.
  • Begin with a five- to 10-minute warm-up of light cardio (walking in place, jumping jacks, etc.).
  • Perform each exercise for 12 repetitions, resting when you need to, and start with no weights or very light weights.
  • Stretch gently after each exercise.
  • Do this workout two days a week, taking at least one day of rest between sessions.

Personal trainer Ron Ferguson demonstrates proper form.

Thanks to Aspire Personal Training in Medford for providing the equipment and facilities for this photo shoot.

Chair squat

1. Place a straight-backed chair against a wall.

2. Stand in front of the chair with feet about shoulder-width apart.

3. Sit down and, as soon as you make contact with the chair, stand back up and try to do so without rocking back or using momentum. You can place your hands on your thighs if you need to or hold hand weights for added intensity.

Ball taps

1. Sit in a chair and place a ball in front of both feet (a mid-sized ball like a soccer ball works best).

2. Sit straight up and try not to rest against the back of the chair, keeping your abs contracted.

3. Lift your right foot, tap the top of the ball and return your foot back to the floor.

4. Switch sides and do the same with your left foot, alternating each foot for all repetitions. For added intensity, sit on an exercise ball to challenge your balance or try the exercise while standing.

Hamstring curls

1. Stand in front of a chair back and hold onto it for balance if you need to.

2. Bend your right knee, bringing your foot up behind you. Keep right knee pointing toward the floor next to your left knee.

3. Slowly lower your foot back down and repeat 12 repetitions before switching to opposite leg. For a challenge, do it without holding onto the chair or add light ankle weights.

Chest squeeze with ball

1. Sit on a ball or chair, back straight and abs tight.

2. Hold a medicine ball (or any ball about this size) at chest level and squeeze with palms of the hands to contract chest muscles.

3. While continuing to squeeze the ball, slowly push the ball out in front of you at chest level until elbows are almost straight.

4. Continuing pressure with your hands, bend elbows and pull the ball back to chest.

Lateral raises

1. Stand or sit holding light dumbbells in both hands at your sides. You can use full water bottles or soup cans for weights if you don't have dumbbells.

2. Keeping elbows slightly bent and wrists straight, lift arms up to sides only to shoulder level (palms face the floor).

3. Lower back down and repeat 12 times.

Biceps curls

1. Sit or stand holding dumbbells in both hands at your sides, palms facing up.

2. Contract biceps (front-arm muscles) and curl weights up toward your shoulder (without touching shoulder).

3. Lower back down, but keep a slight bend in elbows at the bottom — don't swing weights and keep elbows in place as you curl weights.

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