Aging Guide: Strength Training and Stretching at Home

A Healthy Aging Guide to Strength Training and Stretching at Home

Written By Nicole Davis, CPT

Edited By Saralyn Ward, NASM-CPT

Weight lifting and stretching are useful at any age, but there are specific benefits for older adults.

With aging comes concerns about strength, balance, and mobility. But integrating resistance training and stretching into your routine can keep you feeling healthy and strong.

Not sure where to start? Read on for a primer on how aging affects your body and how movement can make a difference, plus a full-body workout and stretching routine that you can do at home.

old man doing squats
ALTO IMAGES/Stocksy United

How does aging impact our bodies?

Age may just be a number, but some physical changes do occur as we get older — and these can affect our health. They include:

Decreased range of motion

Notice that your shoulders, hips, or knees don’t move as well as they used to? As you age, your range of motion — the full movement potential of a joint — decreases due to changes in connective tissue, arthritis, loss of muscle mass, and more.

By how much?

In a study published in the Journal of Aging Research, researchers analyzed shoulder abduction and hip flexion flexibility in adults ages 55–86.

They found a decrease in flexibility of the shoulder and hip joints by approximately 6 degrees per decade across the study participants, but also noted that in generally healthy older adults, the age-related loss of flexibility does not significantly impact daily life (1Trusted Source).

Strength loss

Declining strength is another hallmark of aging.

Older research found that muscle mass decreases by approximately 3-8% per decade after age 30, and this rate increases after age 60 (2Trusted Source).

More current research found the rate of muscle atrophy was closer to 1% per year after age 50, which has an exponential (continually increasing) effect when considered over time (3).

This phenomenon is known as sarcopenia — a loss of muscle mass and function as we get older. This decrease in muscle mass comes from several factors, including:

Article submitted to MSRN by Pat France, MSRN Volunteer
The Maryland Senior Resource Network, Inc, (MSRN) is a network of select business professionals who offer products and/or services to seniors and caregivers to help seniors remain safe, comfortable and as independent as possible. All members are background checked and held to a strict Code of Conduct.
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