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Strengthening Exercises in Elderly People

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Strength training is a resistance exercise that will help to stay physically and mentally healthy and can be started at any age. Read the article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Rajesh Gulati

Published At January 11, 2023
Reviewed AtFebruary 8, 2023


American feminist and activist Betty Friedan said, "Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength." Exercise is vital to stay healthy and is a medium to improve life expectancy and quality, even in older adults. Aerobics or strength training exercises benefit a senior individual in many ways.

What Is Strength Training?

Strength training exercises are physical activities that improve muscle strength by forcing muscles to work against a resistant weight or force. It is also known as resistance training or weight training. It works on the tendency of human muscles to overcome a resistance force. Strength training can be practiced in four different ways:

  • With free weights.

  • With weight machines.

  • With resistance bands.

  • With body weight.

What Are the Benefits of Strength Training?

  • It improves strength.

  • It provides energy.

  • It improves balance.

  • It imparts mindfulness and a positive attitude.

  • It improves the resistance to diseases and health conditions.

  • It helps to manage weight.

Can Strength Training Improve Bone Strength?

Strength training will exert a load or stress on the bones, stimulating the bone-forming cells to produce more bone tissues. Thus bone density and strength increase, and the chances of osteoporosis decrease. Osteoporosis is a common symptom of decreased bone density, mainly occurring in older age, especially in females after menopause. The condition is primarily due to vitamin D, calcium deficiency, and hormonal changes. In this case, the chances of fracture increase as the bones become more fragile or brittle. Strength training will also target the areas of the skeleton that are more prone to fractures by improving the muscular attachment to the bone.

  1. Strength Training and Weight Management: Inadequate activeness during old age may usually create an imbalance in an individual's weight and may lead to overweight and obesity. Obesity is associated with numerous health risks. In addition, if no attempts are made to lose or manage weight, it may lead to reduced muscle mass. Strength training can gradually increase metabolism, burn more calories, reduce or maintain a healthy weight, and increase muscle mass.

  2. Independence by Weight Training: Strength training benefits physical health and plays a vital role in improving emotional and mental well-being. It can improve the quantity and quality of sleep, which usually gets sacrificed in old age. A sound sleep may bring happiness and positivity. Strength training also enhances the health of joints and muscles, building balance and reducing the risk of falling. As a result, The individual may need less external support for the movement, imparting a sense of independence.

  3. Strength Training and Arthritis: Arthritis is the inflammation or swelling of the joints leading to pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. The chances of arthritis increase with age. Strength training can reduce morning stiffness, pain, and inflammation. Some medications used to treat arthritis can lead to osteoporosis. Strength training increases muscle density and decreases the chance of osteoporosis. Obesity and increased body mass index (BMI) can worsen the inflammation during arthritis by putting more stress on joints. Reduced activity may lead to increased muscle loss, decreased metabolism, and increased weight, which can be managed by strength training alone or combined with cardio exercises. Strength training has the potential to prolong calorie burn.

  4. Strength Training and Back Pain: Back pain is a significant physical barrier, especially during old age. Back pain may force the individual to rest the back muscles. In addition, prolonged back pain indicates more fat accumulation and weak back muscles. Over time the pain and fatigability increase and make the individual afraid of moving the back. Weight training gradually increases muscle mass, strength, and function, thus relieving back pain.

  5. Healthy Heart and Weight Training: Strength training has the potential to improve circulation, which brings adequate oxygen and nutrients to every cell of the body. It will also reduce the predisposing factors to heart problems like high cholesterol, diabetes (a metabolic condition where the blood sugar levels are elevated), high blood pressure, and being overweight. All these factors are necessary for maintaining a healthy heart, thus preventing acute and chronic heart problems.

  6. Strength Induces Happiness: During stress and pain, the body releases certain chemicals called endorphins- the happiness hormone. Endorphins relieve stress and pain and improve the overall sense of well-being. Endorphins are also released during strength training, and it fights off a lousy mood and negative attitude. Uplifting the mood is related to stress relief and clearing the head. Happiness is also brought by the physical well-being stimulated by strength training. It improves focus and concentration. The improvement of overall physical and mental well-being will also increase self-confidence, gradually making all post-retirement dreams come true.

What Are the Safety Tips While Strength Training?

  • Check with the doctor before starting the training program.

  • Wear comfortable clothing and accessories.

  • Choosing the correct type of footwear is very important; try to get an expert opinion and purchase the shoe after trying it out.

  • Take guidance from a trained instructor.

  • Beginners should begin slowly and progress gradually. Taking heavyweight in a single stretch is not advisable.

  • In case of any illness, take a rest and pause the workout.

  • If the break taken is more than 14 days, restart again at a slow pace.

  • Stay hydrated while exercising.

  • Soreness post-workout is typical, but consult the doctor if symptoms like imbalance, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness, and chest pain occur.

Work in Groups:

Doing exercises is always a challenging task to follow. But this can be made interesting by doing it in groups. Group workouts can be done by joining a gym with friends or converting your friend circle to a group workout circle. Group sessions will improve social engagement and motivate each member to follow the routine, challenge each other to meet tasks, update about health progress, and chat about mental well-being. Getting company is the key to staying updated and avoiding feelings of depression and loneliness.

Home Versus Gym:

Strength training with free weights, resistance bands, and body weights can be easily done at home. Home workouts need dumbbells, resistance bands, and other types of weights. Strength training with machines is usually done in a gym facility with all equipment. But for older people, it is always advisable to get the training under an expert instructor or trainer, who will explain and train on the postures to be maintained while working out.

Why Is Warming Up and Cooling Down Important?

Warming up exercises or stretches is very important to increase blood circulation to the muscles slowly. Jumpstarting the workout without stretching can suddenly increase body temperature and blood flow, increasing the chances of soreness and other injuries. Slow walking, bike riding, or gentle stretching of the muscles may do the job. The main idea is to bring a slow and peaceful start to the program, which is also crucial for heart health.

Cool-down stretches post-workout are vital to bringing the body back to the expected steady position, gradually reducing the body temperature, breathing, and heart rate. Slow jogs and static stretches can be done for 5 to 10 minutes during the cool-down routine. It is always important to stretch the group of muscles trained during the program to avoid injury.


Beginning strength training at any age is possible and a wise option. Improving overall physical and mental well-being is the prime factor to consider in old age, which can be accomplished by staying active. Age is not an obstruction to exercise and staying fit. The only thing to be considered is to get a medical opinion before starting up the new routine. Then, let the happy hormones work.

Frequently Asked Questions


Can Physical Exercise Strengthen the Heart?

Irrespective of weight, age, and gender aerobic exercises are important for heart health. Physical exercises improve circulation and cholesterol that manages weight and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Aerobic exercises increase stamina, and the immune system improves mood and keeps the body active. Muscle-strengthening exercises make the muscle work against a load or resistance that increases the size and strength. Stronger muscles boost the metabolic rate. The aerobic exercises include 
 - Jogging.
 - Running.
 - Swimming. 
 - Cycling. 
 - Jumping rope. 
 - Climbing stairs.
 - Playing sports like basketball, soccer, and tennis.


Which exercises Help to Strengthen Hips?

Leg raises build the strength of the hip muscles. A butterfly pose exercise helps stretch the hips and stimulates the blood flow to the hips. The seated march exercise helps increase the strength of the hip and thigh muscles. Hip circles are standing exercises that improve the flexibility of the hips. Knee lifts help stretch the hip flexors, thigh muscles, and gluteal muscles. The following are the hip strengthening exercises-
 - Bulgarian split squats.
 - Step up to reverse lunge.
 - Dumbbell sumo squat.
 - Kickstand Romanian deadlift.
 - Explosive sprinters lunge.
 - Banded jump squat.
 - Kettlebell swing.
 - Lateral lunge.
 - Banded marching hip bridge.


What Are the Exercises That Strengthen Hamstrings?

Hamstring exercises include hip extension and knee flexion. Cycling, walking, running, and hiking are some of the activities that make the hamstring muscles strong. The hamstrings flex the knee and extend the hip. The following are the exercises that strengthen the hamstring muscles-
 - Basic bridge.
 - Lying leg curl.
 - Single leg deadlift.
 - Squat.
 - Leg press on the ball.
 - Reverse plank.
 - Kettlebell swing.


What Are the Exercises That Strengthen the Hip Flexors?

A sedentary lifestyle is associated with weak muscles. The weakness of hip muscles can cause hip pain, lower back pain, and injury. The hip flexors are muscles responsible for bringing the leg upward and flexing the hip. The hip flexors exercise stretches and keep the hip flexible, and strong and maximizes hip mobility. Hip flexor exercises worsen the hip tension. The following are some of the hip flexor exercises-
 - Half kneeling hip flexor stretch.
 - Knee to chest stretch.
 - Pigeon pose.
 - Bridge.
 - Lunge.
 - Floor-sliding mountain climbers.
 - Straight-leg raise.


What Are the Exercises to Strengthen Weak Body?

Physical exercises help strengthen and increase flexibility and help in muscle strength, maintain bone density, reduce joint pain, and improve balance. The following are examples of muscle-strengthening activities-
 - Heavy gardening.
 - Cycling.
 - Dance.
 - Push-ups, squats, and sit-ups.
 - Yoga.
 - Climbing stairs.
 - Working with resistance bands.
 - Hill walking.


What Are the Exercises That Strengthen the Groin?

A groin strain is due to strenuous activities or overuse. Avoiding activities that strain aggravate the condition and doing exercises can repair the groin. To prevent groin strain it is important to avoid strenuous activities. It is crucial to resume the activity slowly and steadily. The following are the exercises for groin strain-
 - Hip adductor stretch.
 - Hamstring stretch on the wall.
 - Straight leg raise.
 - Resisted hip flexion.


What Exercises Can Strengthen Glutes?

The glute muscles are significant for jumping, standing, running, standing, and climbing and generating force from the body. The best glute muscle exercises are-
 - Hip thrusts.
 - Lateral banded walks.
 - Curtsy lunge.


What Exercises Strengthen the Elbow?

Isometric elbow exercises contract the muscles to help strengthen the elbow joint. The tricep and bicep are the large muscles that bend and straighten the elbows. The following methods can be followed to strengthen the elbow-
 - Sit in a straight-backed chair with armrests.
 - Place the feet flat on the floor.
 - Place the hands on the armrests and push them with your arms by lifting the bottom slightly off the chair.
 - Hood for six seconds and sit down and relax.
 - Repeat this exercise many times.


What Strength Exercises can be done on daily basis?

The following are some examples of daily work out-
 - Push-ups.
 - Bodyweight squat.
 - Mountain climbers.
 - Plank.
 - Bodyweight split squats.
 - Single-leg hip raise.
 - Single-leg toe touches.
 - Leg raises.
 - Lunge.


What Are the Exercises That Strengthen the Arms?

The following are the exercises that strengthen the arms-
 - Lateral raise.
 - Overhead extension.
 - Push-ups.
 - Tricep push-ups.
 - Bicep curl.
 - Dumbbell row.
 - Two-arm kettlebell swing.
 - Plank to push-up.
 - Tricep dips.
 - Dumbbell punch.


How Can Strengthening Exercises Prevent Obesity in Old Age?

The exercises help activate the glucose transporters and insulin receptors in the muscles and adipose tissues. So the muscles can take up the glucose and fatty acids for their energy. In a sedentary lifestyle without exercise the insulin receptors are resistant and this increases the glucose and fatty acids circulating in the body. Without exercise, muscle mass decreases and lower muscle mass means low metabolism. Hormonal changes and a less active lifestyle increase the risk of obesity.


Why Are Strengthening Exercises Significant to Old Age People?

The following are the exercises significant to elder people-
Exercise improves balance for adults are- 
 - Chair yoga.
 - Water aerobics.
 - Resistance band workouts.
 - Pilates.
 - Walking.
 - Body-weight workouts.
 - Dumbbell strength training.


How Does Exercise Strengthen the Bones of Aged People?

Exercise improves balance and coordination. The bone adapts to building denser bone when physical exercises are done regularly. Exercises like walking, climbing stairs, and jogging strengthen the bones. Resistant exercises like weightlifting can increase bone strength.


How to Strengthen the Health of Elder Patients?

The following exercises can be done to strengthen health-
Aerobic Dance- It combines dance and aerobic exercises.
Team Sports- Recreational sports like basketball, soccer, tennis, and softball.
Swimming- Water aerobics, and aqua jogging help improve circulation and puts less stress on the joints.
Cycling- Diabetic neuropathy causes damage to the nerves that cause joint pain with type 2 diabetes. Cycling helps meet fitness goals and minimize the strain on the joints.
Walking- Walking helps lower blood pressure, body mass index, and HbA1c.
Exercising With Resistant Bands- Exercising with resistance bands provides many benefits to control blood sugar.


Why Is Warm-up Important for the Elderly?

Warming up for exercises is very essential and it is as simple as starting out at an easy pace, after which speed is gradually increased. The length of warm-up depends on fitness level. Physical exercises increase the breathing and heart rate and a warm-up starts the process gradually and safely.


How Do Elders Warm up for Exercise?

Before an exercise routine, it is crucial to ensure the body is adequately warmed-up. A Warm-up helps the elderly to get ready prevent any injuries and get more out of the exercise that they do. The warm-up exercises include-
 - Fast-paced side stepping.
 - Jogging on the spot.
 - Arm swings.
 - Lunges.
 - Squats.
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Dr. Rajesh Gulati
Dr. Rajesh Gulati

Family Physician


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