Many of my patients are busy just like you still working, maybe traveling a lot, and just can’t seem to find enough time to get in a much-needed regular workout. Well, no more excuses! I’d like to tell you about this 1 little device that is not only portable and can be packed easily into your suitcase, but it’s easy to use, inexpensive, and, best of all, produces great muscle strengthening results. It’s called a Resistance Band and I’d like to tell you how could benefit from them.
The 1 Piece of Exercise Equipment You Must Own
I’m sure you’ve heard about resistance training as the best way to strengthen senior muscles and bones. It’s true – yet, you may think the only way to do resistance training is to lift free weights, or work out on stationary machines, at the gym. No, in fact, there’s 1 ingenious little exercise device that can do the same work as free weights and stationary gym machines. The best part is you don’t have to stand in line or risk hurting yourself by lifting too much weight.
Resistance Bands seem to be made just for seniors, especially those who travel a lot and want to keep their resistance exercise efforts on track. Resistance training is a slow, controlled motion that pits your muscles against tension. As a result, your muscles strengthen working against that tension. It’s absolutely crucial for seniors to do resistance training to keep their muscles strong as they grow older. Strong muscles also mean stronger bones, as muscles rub against bones in all of their movements, stimulating the bone to grow denser and stronger.
Strong muscles and bones mean greater flexibility and, very importantly, greater balance. Most falls (and fractures) that occur to older people happen because their muscles are weak, which weakens their balance. Resistance exercise really targets these issues as well as decreases pain from arthritis, and helps you lift grocery bags or climb flights of stairs better. Yet, studies show many seniors are not getting enough resistance exercise. Given the amount of time they find to exercise, they usually choose to do aerobic, endurance-type, exercise like walking, bicycling, tread milling, swimming, etc. Resistance training is the other side of the stay-strong-as-you-get-older coin.
The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend that seniors aim for a minimum of 2 1/2 hours (150 minutes) of physical activity per week, doing resistance exercise at least 2 days a week. Yet, with resistance bands, you can do a complete, whole body workout in about 10-15 minutes and could easily fit in the workout 3 times a week.
An Easy, Pain-Free Resistance Band Workout
First, get yourself an inexpensive resistance band at any store that carries sports and exercise equipment. Usually, they’re sold in sets of light, medium, heavy so you can start with a lighter band and progress to a band with more tension. That’s what so great about resistance bands, you control the tension.
To start, you’ll want to first, and always, do some stretching exercises to warm up your muscles. Remember; always move slowly and smoothly when stretching to avoid pulling muscles. Your movements should never be fast and jerky.
Stand with your feet about 1-2 feet apart, arms out to your sides, and do a “windmill” like move, lowering your left fingertips towards the floor and extending your right fingertips towards the ceiling. Repeat 3-4 times.
Then, stand and twist at the waist from side to side a few times. Next, lift your hands over your head and try to bend over and touch as near the floor as you can, careful if your balance is not great. Now, it’s time for your resistance band.
Resistance band exercise is great for adding much needed resistance exercise to your already existing routine. It can even take the place of your regular gym workouts when you’re too busy to get there, the weather’s bad and you don’t feel like driving, or you’re traveling. I think you’ll see how easy it can be to get stronger muscles, greater flexibility and balance, as you age. It’ll allow you to stay independent and as active as you want in your busy life!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.