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Strength training helps seniors become more flexible

By Staff | Sep 16, 2014

Linnea Mabb from Muncy demonstrates how to use resistance bands at the Meck Senior Center in Muncy Township. Overhead arm raises will keep your arms and shoulders flexible she said.

MUNCY – September is Healthy Aging month and seniors at the Meck Senior Center have been taking positive steps all along to growing older. Director Debbie Dowdy said that strength training with resistance bands has helped them become stronger and more flexible.

A few hours a week are spent using the resistance bands to improve their physical, mental and social well-being.

This is a low impact aerobic exercise that encompasses the whole body as explained by Linnea Mabb who has been instructing her peers with the resistance bands every Tuesday and Thursday at the senior center. There is a faithful group that comes to the classes explained Dowdy.

It’s never too late to start these simple exercises and one can build strength over time without over exerting. “You can do these anywhere,” said Mabb as she demonstrated tying one end of the band to a door and pulling with a gentle stretch using her hands and shoulders.

These bands are good for older adults to use because they can easily be controlled, forcing muscles to “perform against tension.”

“This gives you a brain boost too,” Mabb added. While fighting bone loss, older adults can increase range of motion which can help ease symptoms of arthritis pain.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association, those 70 and older (40 percent women and 30 percent men) don’t even exercise at all. Strength training should be part of an everyday routine so that carrying groceries or climbing stairs will be easier.

Try to aim for a minimum of two and a half hours a week at least every two days recommends AHA. It was proven through a study at the University of British Columbia that women ages 65 to 75 who participated in resistance training just once a week improved their cognitive function.

An easy exercise to perform is to hold each end of the band and pull away from your body keeping elbows straight, then raise above the head. “This will help maintain your ability to reach those objects higher in your kitchen cabinets,” explained Mabb. “It can also help with neck stiffness and increase mobility to turn your head to see what’s behind you.” Estherbelle Valiquette from Muncy said that she has noticed an improvement with her hands and arms using the resistance bands.

Through the Office of Aging at STEP, many of the senior centers are offering group exercises and resistance training throughout the month. “As we age, joint mobility is often compromised making it more difficult to get out of that chair or walk up a flight of stairs.” By adding strength training exercises on a regular basis, older adults discovered they have reversed muscle loss within about three months.