Lower Body Strength: Why it Matters for Seniors and What They Can Do to Maintain It

Written by James Fleming

Muscle loss and a lack of strength are common complaints among senior citizens. In fact, 5-13 percent of seniors aged 60-70 and 11-50 percent of seniors aged 80 and up suffer from muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia.

Some seniors make the mistake of assuming muscle loss is normal. Not only is it not the norm, but it also can seriously hinder a senior’s quality of life and leave them susceptible to all kinds of injuries.

Lower body strength is especially important for older adults who want to maintain their independence as they age.

Read on to learn more about the importance of lower body strength for seniors, what they can do to improve their strength, and how they can maintain the strength that they currently have.

Why Lower Body Strength Matters

Strengthening the muscles in the lower body helps improve bone strength and density in older adults. This is especially important for older women, who are more prone to a loss of bone density after menopause.

Strengthening the lower body also helps improve balance and stamina. This, in turn, decreases the risk of experiencing hip and knee injuries. It also decreases the risk of falling, which is the leading cause of fatal injury among senior citizens.

A strong lower body also makes it easier for seniors to live independently and perform daily functions like walking, standing up from a chair or bed, and climbing the stairs.

What Seniors Can Do to Build and Maintain Lower Body Strength

As you can see, lower body strength matters a great deal for senior citizens who want to enjoy a high quality of life. Listed below are three of the best exercises for seniors who need to strengthen their lower body:

Sit to Stand

One goal all seniors can work toward is being able to stand up from a chair or bed without assistance. In fact, this skill is correlated with a longer lifespan!

To be able to do this, seniors need to have strong quadriceps (front of the thigh) muscles. To strengthen their quads and work toward standing up unassisted, seniors can simply practice sitting in a chair and standing back up.

At first, they’ll probably need to use the armrests or hold onto someone else for support. With practice, though, they’ll be able to work up to sitting and standing completely on their own!

Stationary Lunges

A stationary lunge is a more advanced exercise that helps strengthen the hamstrings, glutes, and calves in addition to the quadriceps.

To do a stationary lunge, stand with the legs together. Then, take a large step back with the left leg and stand with the left heel lifted. Stand up straight with the hands on the hips.

Slowly bend the legs and lower the body down toward the floor until the knees form 90-degree angles — don’t let the left knee hit the floor. Slowly rise back up, then repeat for eight repetitions before switching sides.

Swiss Ball Squats

This is another good quadriceps strengthener; it also targets the glutes and hips.To do this exercise, stand up straight with a swiss ball between your shoulders and a wall. Lean back against the ball and slowly bend the knees to lower into a squat. Once the legs have formed a 90-degree angle, press into the ground with the feet and rise back up. Repeat for eight repetitions.

Tools for Seniors Who Lack Lower Body Strength

For seniors who are currently recovering from an injury or suffer from a severe lack of lower body strength, there are a number of tools that can help them get around while they heal, including the following:

While the goal is to eventually move away from these tools, it’s great to have them on hand during the recovery process or for seniors who are just getting started with a strength routine.

Ways to Stay Safe as You Age

Written by Becky Wilcox

Most of us don’t want to think about getting older — especially the ways in which we might get frailer. We want to think of ourselves as strong and independent forever. But the reality is that we will get weaker as we age. Our bones will become more brittle, we will lose muscle mass, and we might even lose cognitive function. We’ll be a little more wobbly and a lot more prone to injury.

Rather than ignoring that reality and setting ourselves up for serious injury, we should be making plans to make our homes as safe as they can be so that we can live independently for as long as possible. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you stay safe as you age:

Invest in Mobility Aides

A simple fall can lead to a major injury when you are older and your bones are weaker. You could break a bone just slipping off the last stair or you could even break a hip if you fall. If you have stairs in your home, you should invest in a residential elevator to be on the safe side. It will also help you if you have something heavy to carry up or down the stairs. You should definitely install mobility aides in the bathroom, where you are most likely to fall. Put a handrail in the tub or shower, and put one next to the toilet. If your joints are feeling creaky, you might even consider adding a toilet seat or a shower seat (or both). Don’t let your pride get in the way of your safety!

Address Slippery Surfaces

Loss of mobility isn’t the only reason you might have a fall. Slippery surfaces can lead to a hard landing even when you otherwise feel steady on your feet. Take care of these surfaces both inside and outside your home to reduce your chance of a slip and fall.

Replace slippery stone paths outside, or rough them up with some sand or salt. Put down friction strips on outside stone or wood stairs as these can get slippery when wet. Put mats inside and outside your doorways to catch water. Use runners and rugs throughout your home on other slippery stretches of flooring. Put friction strips inside your tub and shower.

Add Bumpers to Furniture Corners

Not only will your bones weaken as you get older, but your skin will also be a lot more delicate. It may seem like it hardly takes any pressure at all for your skin to bruise or bleed. If you knock into the corner of a piece of furniture, you are likely to get a serious injury.

Add bumpers to all sharp corners, including on tables, consoles, window ledges, and fireplaces. Also, take time to have your furniture re-arranged so you have more open pathways to move around your home.

Install a Home Security System

Some threats will come from outside your home. You may have taken care of every risk for a fall or injury in your home, but you can’t control whether someone else will try to break in and take your things or hurt you. However, you can install a home security system so that you get help as quickly as possible if someone does enter.

In many cases, would-be robbers will be deterred if they see that you have a security system installed. They don’t want the trouble of the alarm sounding. They would much rather go to a house with no alarm and take what they want undetected. Even if they break in, they are more likely to run off if they hear an alarm.

Getting older is inevitable. You can’t prevent it, but you can plan for it. Besides investing in your retirement and getting the right health care, you can ensure that you have a safe and happy retirement by making your home as safe as possible. Following these tips will help you reduce your risk of injury or harm from others. Nothing will reduce your risk to zero, but these smart strategies will certainly lower your number of visits to the emergency room and will add many years to life.

10 Best Sports for Seniors to Play

Written by James Fleming

Physical activity is important at any age, but as one gets older, there are even more reasons to keep the body moving. Studies have unquestionably linked regular exercise to a longer lifespan, proven to help prevent heart disease, dementia, obesity, and diabetes while postponing up to 40 other conditions. Not to mention that it can also be a lot of fun!

Look over the following list of sports and speak to your doctor about which ones ideally suit your current abilities.

  1. Swimming

If you suffer from arthritis or any type of joint inflammation, then swimming is as low impact as it gets. The weightless properties of the water will alleviate any pressure from your body while you still benefit from a full cardio workout. To really stretch those muscles and get your respiratory system busy, join in with some group activities, such as water aerobics, polo, and volleyball.

  1. Cycling

For those who struggle to run, cycling is a great low impact alternative with more advantages than just fast calorie burning. Cycling is also a popular method of transportation which will save you money while also lowering your carbon footprint. What’s more, it can be very enjoyable to watch the scenery gliding past you, especially if you join a club and participate in group rides!

  1. Tennis

Whether you love a game of tennis or prefer variations such as squash, badminton, or ping-pong, this sporting activity is the perfect way to improve your balance and your eye-hand coordination while zapping those calories clean off. However, the fast-paced nature of this games does require quite an intense amount of running and jumping, meaning it’s not ideal for those with joint problems. That said, if you do feel a repetitive ache coming on, look at purchasing a brace or experiment with hot and cold therapy where you apply ice packs and heat pads in alternating temperatures.

  1. Golf

You may be thankful to know that even a casual round of golf can do wonders for your overall fitness. Your lungs will appreciate the fresh air, your arms will strengthen from your swing, your brain will provide its deepest puzzle-solving skills, and you will be on your feet for an extended period of time, occasionally even walking uphill. Best of all, with your muscles stretching and your core activating, you’ll be having so much fun that you won’t even notice that you’re exercising whatsoever.

  1. Walking

Simple yet effective, some reports claim that you can get all the physical exercise you need from just 10 – 20 minutes of walking a day. Your blood flow will increase and you will shed those excess pounds without placing too much strain on your joints and ligaments. Furthermore, the fresh oxygen and beauty of the outside world are famous for increasing positive moods and clearing your cluttered thoughts right up.

  1. Dancing

If you’re going to exercise, you might as well have fun with it, right? Dancing is one of the most enjoyable ways to get a full body workout, so look out for senior classes in your area or watch online tutorials to develop this brand new skill. Your energy levels will rise, your memory will be tested to recall certain steps, and you’ll impress your friends next time you’re on the dancefloor!

  1. Lawn Bowling

This physical pastime is very popular in the retiree scene, and for good reason. The various clubs exclusively set up for seniors make for a very sociable gathering, using a bit of friendly competition to improve your balance and coordination.

  1. Tai Chi

By activating your muscles with the gentle movements of tai chi, your overall flexibility and agility will increase without threatening any joint pains or injuries. Furthermore, the mental discipline and breathing techniques required to perform this martial art will make a huge improvement to your mental state of mind too.

  1. Yoga

Yoga is another favorite form of exercise for many seniors because it ticks almost every health box without taxing the body too much whatsoever. Your core balance, muscle flexibility, and respiratory flow will all profit from the practice, while the relaxing meditative properties will help unwind a stressful mind. Look out for senior classes close to you and set out to discover your inner peace!

  1. Croquet

For a much lighter form of sporting pursuits, croquet is the perfect excuse to go outside and exercise at your own pace. This game may not be the most intense workout you’ve ever experienced, but the puzzle-solving focus required will definitely challenge your mental cogs while the social aspect should lift your spirits substantially. Even better is that this leisurely pastime can be performed in your own backyard!