Even if you’re 90 years old, even in the mid-90s, it’s not too late to gain amazing benefits from strength training, even if you’ve never picked up a piece of metal in your entire life.
In a study was led by Mikel Izquierdo-Redín, subjects ages 91 to 96 strength trained twice a week for 12 weeks. The following improvements resulted:
– An increase in walking speed
– Increased ease in getting out of chairs
– Improved balance
– Big reduction in number of falls
– Big improvement in muscle mass and power in the legs
There’s no reason why your great-grandmother or great-grandfather of 90-something should not start doing some strength training: lifting weights.
Are you a 60-something person taking care of a 90-something parent?
Do you go to a gym? Take your “frail elderly” parent with you (assuming they’re cognitively functional) and get them going.
“Age shouldn’t keep you from trying to be as healthy as you can,” says Monica Charlton, certified personal trainer and Silver Sneakers certified trainer at All Inclusive Health, a personal training studio in New Orleans.
“For people over the age of 90, you want to focus on workouts that help you build strength in your muscles, increase mobility and improve your balance.”
As a former personal trainer who worked with seniors, I recommend the leg press machine, as it’s one of the easiest exercises for the frail elderly to perform.
There’s no strain on the back, as the person’s back is supported by the equipment. Low settings can be handled by a 90-something frail person who’s able to walk into a gym.
“In addition to the significant increases in the physical capacity of frail elderly people,” says Izquierdo-Redín in the paper, “the study has shown that power training can be perfectly applied to the elderly with frailty.”
What People in Their 90s Will Love About Lifting Weights
- No jarring motions.
- No impact.
- Can be done in one spot, either lying, sitting or standing.
- Most gyms have dumbbells as light as two pounds.
- Weighted balls and tension bands can also be used.
Should a 90-year-old do squats?
The squat has many variations. It doesn’t have to be done with a barbell across the back, and it doesn’t have to be butt to the heels.
“Squats, either done on a chair or against a wall, increase hip flexibility and will strengthen your quadriceps,” says Charlton.
“This helps improve not only your walking ability but your ability to stand up from a seated position as well. This move can be challenging, so make sure to have someone there to assist.”
Additional Strength Training Exercises for 90-Somethings
The report points out that lack of exercise is a key element in an aging person’s loss of muscle mass and functional strength. “Little old ladies” and “frail old men” absolutely should lift weights.
All Inclusive Health’s training services include fitness/body composition assessments, nutrition planning, running programs and customized programs for clients with disabilities or injuries.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.