Exercise for Healthy Aging: Strength Exercises

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Strength exercises

Strength exercises work your muscles. They strengthen you muscles and bones, slow muscle and bone loss, and improve your balance and posture. As a result, your risks of falling and compromising your autonomy are reduced. To do most strength exercises, you will need to use weights. Start with light weights, or even with no weights at all, and gradually increase; this way you will limit your risk of injury. It is important to feel your muscles make an effort; that's what increases your muscle mass. It is equally important to stretch each muscle group that you work after each session. Don't forget to breathe; this brings oxygen to your muscles. Holding your breath when you make an effort can have a detrimental effect on your blood pressure, especially if you suffer from a cardiovascular disease. You should always exhale at the moment of greatest effort.

Frequency and duration

Start by doing strength exercises at least twice a week. Do 8 to 15 repetitions of each exercise. Each strength exercise should be split into three parts: 3 seconds to lift the weight, 1 second to hold it in position, and 3 seconds to move it down again. You should never let your weight fall. If you can't complete 8 repetitions, you are using a weight that is too heavy for you. If it is easy to do 15, then your weight is too light.

A few examples of strength exercises 

Arm abduction (with or without dumbbells) 

Bicep curl (with or without dumbbells) 

Calf raise (with or without holding onto the back of a sturdy chair) 

Knee lift  

Leg lift 

Shoulder lift  

Overhead tricep extension (with or without dumbbells) 

Leg extension 

Hip extension  

Hip abduction 

Sitting and standing without using your arms

Next: Balance Exercises

 

We are pleased to house this series of FAQs supervised by Cara Tannenbaum, from the Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal.

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