Muscle strength for seniors.


. Muscle strength for seniors is important because a natural decline occurs as we age

. We need to replenish what we are losing

. Those who engage often report feeling happier and more outgoing

Why is it important?

As we get older our muscles, joints and tendons naturally lose strength, flexibility and function. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. To counteract that it’s important for seniors to do their own muscle strength training to replenish what they are losing. We can’t go back in time but we can certainly slow the decline. If you commit a certain amount of time each week to strengthening your muscles, tendons and joints you will continue to be physically productive.

This study outlines how the ageing process can be attributed to ‘a number of physiologic and functional declines that can contribute to increased disability, frailty, and falls’ through a reduction of muscle strength. It suggests that strength training is an excellent way of combating the natural deterioration of the body. ‘Done regularly (e.g., 2 to 3 days per week), these exercises build muscle strength and muscle mass and preserve bone density.’

And this study also talks about the intensity and effect of strength training in seniors. It states that ‘the elderly need strength training more and more as they grow older to stay mobile for their everyday activities. The goal of training is to reduce the loss of muscle mass and the resulting loss of motor function.’


Osteoporosis is a common ailment that arises as we get older and there is evidence to suggest that strength training helps to neutralise the effects of this condition. This is because one of the goals is to improve bone strength by challenging the body to respond and get stronger. As this study states ‘Of the several exercise training programs, resistance exercise (RE) is known to be highly beneficial for the preservation of bone and muscle mass.’

It goes on to say that ‘Exercise training, especially RE, is important for the maintenance of musculoskeletal health in an aging society’ and that ‘Based on the available information, RE, either alone or in combination with other interventions, may be the most optimal strategy to improve the muscle and bone mass in postmenopausal women, middle-aged men, or even the older population.’

Psychological benefits of building muscle strength

While the majority of health benefits are physical there is also evidence emerging that there are definite psychological benefits that are a direct by-product. Seniors who engage in this type of strength and resistance work often report feeling happier, more confident and outgoing. A chemical reaction is unlocked as well as being a natural boost to your self-esteem when you successfully challenge yourself.

This study suggests that ‘Resistance training improved exercise-related motivational and volitional characteristics in older adults. These improvements were linked to continuing resistance training 1 year after the supervised intervention.’ Greater motivation and positive reinforcement are certainly some of the psychological benefits that can come with strength and resistance training.

Resistance bands and core muscles

If you are a little reluctant to start working with heavy weights another option at your disposal is to start using elastic bands which are a great alternative. Resistance bands are convenient, efficient and portable which means you can take them wherever you go or do your workout from the comfort of your own home. There is also less chance of injury because you are not working with heavy weights but rather pushing against your own bodyweight. There is plenty of upside to working with resistance bands and this study states that ‘resistance exercise using elastic bands is effective for improving the flexibility and balance of the elderly people living in the community’.

Because of the full body workout you often get, resistance bands are also a great way to work the core muscles which are pivotal to any muscle strength program regardless of age. The core muscles refer to the trunk, hips, pelvis, abdomen and lower back. This is an important area to develop because it essentially holds the rest of the body together and plays an important role in day to day life and everyday functioning. If you can build this area up it helps with balance, posture and stability and at some level helps to prevent minor overuse injuries from occurring because of the strong foundation you have created. Healthine gives an overview of some good core exercises for seniors.

Structuring your program

So that’s an overview of why it’s important to build muscle strength as we age. The final point we will touch on is how best to structure your program. The first thing to consider is frequency. Two to three times per week with eight to ten repetitions for each exercise is a good starting point. You can ease yourself into your work and it’s not too time consuming. As a result, your body will naturally adapt.

Once you are confident you can either add repetitions or frequency but still be mindful of not overloading your body. You want to try and achieve a balanced fitness program and one that is sustainable over the long run. Muscles also need time to grow and relax in between so it’s important to put some distance between your workouts. Stay dehydrated, keep a safe work area and develop your strength training slowly and steadily.


NCBI: The benefits of strength training for older adults,independence%2C%20and%20vitality%20with%20age.

NCBI: Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health

NCBI: The Intensity and Effects of Strength Training in the Elderly

The Intensity and Effects of Strength Training in the Elderly (

NCBI: Motivational characteristics and resistance training in older adults: A randomized controlled trial and 1-year follow-up

Healthline: Core stabilizing ab exercises to help prevent injury in seniors

Abdominal Exercises for Seniors: For Stability (

NCBI: Effectiveness of resistance exercise using elastic bands on flexibility and balance among the elderly people living in the community: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Effectiveness of resistance exercise using elastic bands on flexibility and balance among the elderly people living in the community: a systematic review and meta-analysis (