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The best 8 exercises for older adults

Last week, I began to answer a question by Donald B. about strength training for older adults. I noted that studies show that resistance training can enhance muscle size and function in older adults (even in 90-year-old subjects), but that the older we get the more resistance training we need to maintain muscle mass and strength.

As a reminder, resistance exercise is a type of strength training focused on building muscle power and size.

Livestrong.com says, “It can be done using the body parts in opposition to each other or another static force – or by using weights or machines.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains the many benefits of resistance training for older adults this way: These exercises “have been shown to increase the strength of your muscles, maintain the integrity of your bones and improve your balance, coordination and mobility. In addition, strength training can help reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic diseases, including arthritis.”

For beginning through advanced abilities, here are what I consider the best eight resistance exercises for older adults (of course, always stretch before exercising any particular muscle group, and warm up for five to 10 minutes by walking on a treadmill or using a stationary bicycle).

Michelle Porter, Ph.D., of the University of Manitoba summarized the explosion of research on the benefits of resistance training by saying: “Older adults can safely get stronger, even in a short time. This is true if the person is an athlete or a frail 95-year-old. Older adults have increased their strength from 10 to over 100 percent in just eight weeks. Some older adults have even reached a strength level equal to someone 20 years younger. Muscle can still grow and develop even in people over 90.”

So no matter what your age, as Jack LaLanne once said, “Remember this: Your body is your slave; it works for you.”

For a more holistic medical approach, my wife, Gena, and I recommend Sierra Integrative Medical Center in Reno, Nev. The people there are pioneers in integrative medicine. They blend the best of conventional medicine with the best alternative therapies.