Strength Training for the Elderly

We tend to think that only the youth and virile need to lift weights and build muscle. We think that it’s what you need to do to look good. But we forget about how important strength training is to maintain a healthy heart and strong bones. Obviously, strength training strengthens the muscles – the biceps, the triceps, quads, and so on. Everyone knows that. But it does more than just help with muscle tone. It helps prevent osteoporosis and it also keeps the heart strong and running optimally. For this reason, our Houston doctors beseech the elderly to commit to a regular weight training routine.

The question arises: what kind of workout routine ought the elderly commit to? Low weight, high repetition workouts. On a daily basis. Contrary to popular belief, weight training becomes more important as one ages. It is incredibly important to keep in mind that by the time one reaches the age of seventy, his or her muscle mass will have decreased by twenty-five percent. A light walk around the park is not enough to make up for this degree of weakening. Rebuilding muscle is imperative to prevent injuries. And, as we mentioned, starting off with light weights, wherein one can do 20 or more repetitions, will be of great benefit.

Loss of bone mass is a common sign of aging. Weight bearing exercise, like resistance or strength training, can greatly combat brittle bone formation, even reversing the damage that has already been done. Put great emphasis on strengthening your legs, as without strong legs, your mobility will greatly be hampered. Our doctors at Doctors Clinic Houston highly recommend the following workout routine, on a daily basis. Start with the upper body and then move to the lower body. If you cannot do all of the workouts every day, aim to do them at least every other day. You will not get the necessary benefits of working out if you only do so sporadically.

  • Chest Press: minimum 20 reps
  • Bicep Curl: minimum 20 reps
  • Overhead Press: minimum 20 reps
  • Leg Press: minimum 20 reps
  • Core Exercises: until exhaustion

Ideally, you want to do each exercise until exhaustion. If you can go beyond 20 repetitions, then do not stop. Continue until you can no longer do another rep. That is the best way to build muscle – when you create tiny microtears in the muscle, provoking them to rebuild even stronger than before.

For the individuals who think physical exercise takes time away from mental exercise (reading, writing, and so on), studies have shown that exercise improves mental clarity, making a person’s mind both sharper and more focused. Think of physical exercise as an investment to not only keep your muscles, bones, and heart strong but your brain as well. Your body and brain will thank you for choosing to strength train.

Get Back in The Swing of Spring


Birds chirping, trees blooming and feet on the pavement all signal the arrival of spring. However, hitting the great outdoors for a 5K or fun run involves more than just lacing up your sneakers and programming the perfect playlist. After a long winter slumber, these five simple steps will get you on your feet again the safe and healthy way.



Go Eat

Starving yourself should never be part of an exercise regimen, but eating right should. Fuel up with whole-wheat breads, pastas and brown rice two hours before your workout. “Whole grains … are going to give you a longer lasting energy to get through your runs,” says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Amy Jamieson-Petonic, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD, LMT. “Even half a whole-grain bagel a half hour before you run could help with that.”

Foods to avoid include anything high in sugar like jams and jellies, cookies, cakes, pies and doughnuts, says Jamieson-Petonic. “They tend to give you a quick burst of energy, but then your blood sugar bottoms out,” she says. Healthy substitutes include energy and granola bars, low-fat or fat-free yogurt and fruit smoothies, peanut butter on a bagel thin, and chocolate milk. Foods that may help reduce inflammation such as salmon, tuna and nuts are also good choices.

Go Drink

“Everyone should really be going into a workout hydrated,” says USA Triathlon Coach and professional triathlete Kim Schwabenbauer, RD, LDN. “It prevents muscle tears and it helps you feel better during the workout.” Schwabenbauer recommends drinking fluids throughout the day and definitely within the hour before you workout. Both Schwabenbauer and Jamieson-Petonic agree that water is great if the workout is under 60 minutes, but recommend a sports or energy drink for runs more than an hour.

Go Stretch

“The warm up and cool down are definitely important components of the workout and they should never be skipped,” says Schwabenbauer, who advises ditching static exercises such as grabbing ankles and stretching quads. “Static stretching is really a way of the past,” she says. Instead, try squats, forward lunges and the soldier walk. This is a stretch in which you stand in place with your arms out in front and try and kick your hands, all while keeping your legs elongated.

Go Slow

That race you ran last summer was a long time ago. Consider easing back into your routine if it’s been a while since you’ve run hardcore. “Don’t go out for the first run and think, ‘Today, I’m going to run three miles,'” says Schwabenbauer. “[People] run really hard and then they’re off the next four days because they’re so sore and tired.” Instead, Schwabenbauer advises picking a distance and then increasing gradually by 30-second intervals over time.

Go Rest

When you exercise you’re causing tiny microscopic tears in muscle fiber. Those muscles need time to build themselves back up. “It’s important that we allow our muscles a chance to recover and heal,” says Jamieson-Petonic, who advises either a day of rest or cross training for diehard workout junkies. “Get on a bicycle, get in a pool, do some strength training or core work such as yoga or other types of exercise, so you can give those muscles a chance to heal.”


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