Strong muscles are important in every phase of life, but what if you don't have access to a gym? Resistance band exercises for seniors can be done without even leaving the house. For seniors, strong muscles can mean the difference between living independently or needing full-time care.
Before you perform any new exercises, check with your doctor to be sure they are safe for you. Certain medical conditions, such as arthritis or osteoporosis, can be made worse by improper exercise.
On the flip side, exercising improperly can also lead to injuries, such as tendinitis or muscle tears, according to the Mayo Clinic. Consider seeing a physical therapist for an individualized exercise program if you have an underlying medical condition or have concerns about injury.
General Exercise Guidelines
Staying active and maintaining a healthy weight can help counteract the effects of aging on your mind and body. Not only will this help prevent falls and other medical conditions, but you will be more mobile and enjoy a better quality of life.
But how much exercise do you really need? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise to maintain a normal weight.
In addition, the CDC recommends strength training exercises at least two days per week. Start with a basic 20-minute resistance band workout.
If you do decide to venture out to the gym, resistance bands can travel with you. In fact, they can be used to assist with body-weight exercises that you might not otherwise be strong enough to perform. For example, try chest dips with a band under your feet, as demonstrated on ExRx.net.
Beginner Resistance Band Workout Routine
Strengthen muscles throughout your body with a beginner resistance band workout routine that targets your major muscle groups. Choose the band with the lightest resistance.
For example, when doing TheraBand exercises for seniors, begin with a yellow band. Once you are able to do three sets of 10 repetitions of a particular exercise, progress to the next resistance level. Be sure to back down to one set of 10 each time you make a jump to a new color band.
Use proper posture when performing upper body exercises, to protect your joints and spine. Sit up straight with your feet on the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades down and back, as if you are putting them into your back pockets. Tuck your chin slightly and look straight ahead.
Strengthening the muscles in your chest and back will help you maintain proper posture and make daily tasks — such as lifting groceries and pushing a door open — less difficult.
Upper Body and Chest Exercises
Perform these exercises on each side of the body.
While upper body exercises can be performed in a standing position, sitting down is safer — particularly if you have challenges with your balance.
Move 1: Bicep Curls
- Place one end of the band under your right foot. Hold the opposite end of the band in your right hand.
- Keeping your arm tight by your side, bend your elbow as far as possible, against the resistance of the band.
- Hold for one to two seconds; then slowly lower back down. Do not allow the band to "snap" back to the starting position — this could lead to injury.
Move 2: Triceps Pulldowns
- Secure one end of the band in a door jamb at shoulder-height. Hold the opposite end of the band in your right hand.
- Hold your upper arm against your body and bend your elbow. This is the starting position.
- Push your hand down and straighten your elbow all the way, without leaning your body forward.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
Move 3: Shoulder Extension
- Secure the band at an overhead height. Straighten your elbow, and raise your arm to shoulder height.
- Keeping your elbow straight, pull your arm down until it is at your side. Slowly return to the starting position. Keep your trunk still throughout the movement.
Move 4: Chest Press
- Sit up straight with good posture. Loop the band behind your back, at chest level.
- Hold one end of the band in each hand and bend your elbows to 90 degrees.
- Beginning with your elbows by your sides, straighten your arms at the same time against the resistance of the band.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
Move 5: Seated Rows
- Secure the middle of the resistance band in a door jamb at waist height and hold one end of the band in each hand. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your elbows straight back. Keep your forearms parallel to the floor.
- Hold for one to two seconds; then slowly return to the starting position.
Lower Body Exercises
Target the muscles in your hips and thighs, as demonstrated by the American Council on Exercise, as part of your resistance band exercises for seniors. Use caution — these exercises are performed in a standing position. If you're concerned about your balance, place one hand on the back of a chair for support.
As with the upper body, perform these exercises on both sides of the body.
Move 1: Hip Abduction
- Loop the resistance band around your ankles; then stand on the leg closest to the chair.
- Lift your opposite leg out to the side, without leaning your upper body. Keep your knee straight to target your glute muscles — you should feel tension in the muscles on the outside of your hip.
- Slowly lower back to the starting position.
Move 2: Hip Extension
- With the band looped around your ankles, shift your weight onto the leg next to the chair.
- Keeping your knee straight, lift your leg straight back behind you — the muscles in your buttocks and the back of your thigh should tighten during this movement.
Read more: TheraBand Exercises for Legs
Move 3: Hip Flexion
- Keeping the band looped around your ankles, lift one leg straight out in front of you as far as possible — without leaning backward.
- Slowly lower back down, and repeat.