As we age our bodies become less efficient at building and maintaining muscle. I was surprised to learn that as we reach 75 years of age; we can lose as much as 4% of our muscle strength each year!
In order to make sure this does not happen, it is important to incorporate resistance exercises into our weekly routine. Resistance training builds muscle strength by making your muscles work against a weight or force.
The world health organisation recommends that adults complete muscle strengthening activities that involve major muscle groups at least twice per week. Benefits of this include:
- Building muscle strength to support and protect our joints from injury
- Improves bone strength and reduces risk of osteoporosis
- Helps in the prevention and control of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, back pain and depression
- Weight management- as you increase your muscle to fat ratio your body burns more energy when at rest
- Improved posture
- Improved stamina, as you get stronger you tire less easily
- Improved ability to complete everyday tasks such as carrying shopping
There are many ways you can incorporate resistance exercise into your weekly routine without the need for a gym membership or any specialist equipment!
Here are some ideas of resistance exercises you can do within the comfort of your own home.
A squat mimics sitting in a chair and then standing back up and is a great way to build strength in your legs. Squatting whilst brushing your teeth is a convenient way to fit this into your routine.
- Start with your feet shoulder width apart
- Sit your bottom back and down as if you were sitting in an imaginary chair
- Keep your feet flat on the floor
- Squat down as far as you are able whilst keeping your back flat
- Hold at the bottom then return to the start position
- To make these more difficult try squatting slower or holding at the bottom for longer
Cooking bicep curls
This exercise can be done with various household objects such as a tin of food, a bag of sugar or a water bottle. Try these whilst waiting for your dinner to cook tonight!
- Start with your elbows straight and the palm of your hands facing forward, holding your weight of choice in your hands
- Bend your elbows to bring the weight up towards your shoulders
- Slowly return back to your start position
- You can make these more difficult by holding a heavier object in your hands
Shopping bag lunges
Working one leg at a time with lunges is a good way to build leg strength whilst also challenging trunk stability.
- Start with your feet together and step forwards with one leg
- Lower your body by bending your hip and knees
- Keep your torso upright, and your feet and knees forwards
- Bring your back leg forward to meet the front leg and stand up
- Repeat with the other leg
- You can make this more difficult by holding shopping bags in each hand
Good luck and enjoy!
N.B. If you have knee problems, please consult with your physio before starting any new exercises.