Aging leads to the loss of muscle mass and strength in the arms. Fortunately, both can be increased with a proper exercise program. As seniors lose arm strength, their independence can be threatened. Consider these tips when helping your senior loved one build greater arm strength.
1. Warm Up
Everyone should warm up before exercising. Seniors require more time to get their muscles ready for action than younger adults. Walking with wrist or hand weights is an excellent warm-up. Simply performing upper body exercises with very light weights, or no weights at all, is another option.
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2. Practice Good Posture
Poor posture increases the risk of injury and can make arm exercises less effective. Encourage your loved one to maintain good posture while seated or standing. Maintaining good posture can be an exercise in itself.
3. Keep Exercising Despite Soreness
There will likely be a little soreness a day or two after beginning a new exercise program. Encourage your loved one to stick with it. Soreness can be minimized by taking it easy for the first week or two. Muscle soreness is fine, but joint pain is not. See a doctor if you have concerns about your loved one’s health and safety.
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4. Pick the Proper Amount of Weight
Most professionals suggest 8 to 15 repetitions for an exercise. Performing less than eight repetitions indicates the weight is too heavy. Choose a weight your loved one can handle. Arm muscles are relatively small, so the weight lifted will also be small at first. Too much weight can lead to injury. Too little weight will fail to increase strength.
5. Use a Variety of Resistance.
Dumbbells can be helpful for increasing grip strength. Resistance bands and wrist weights are another option. Wrist weights don’t require using the hands at all.
6. Increase the Weight
Repeating the same workout with the same level of resistance can help seniors maintain their current level of strength. The key is increasing the amount of weight lifted or the number of repetitions. Your loved one should add weight and repetitions slowly, maintain the amount of weight lifted until 15 repetitions can be completed, then increase the weight until only 8 repetitions can be performed.
Make sure your loved one is hitting all the right muscles. At minimum, include exercises that address the biceps, triceps, and forearms. The shoulder muscles are also important because they help stabilize the arms. A quick search online will provide plenty of exercise options. If your loved one feels uncertain, consult a physician, physical therapist, or personal trainer for advice. Seniors can increase their arm strength with a sensible exercise program.
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