Exercising for Seniors (Part 4 of 4)

Exercise Bands Provide a Tubular Workout

Exercise tubing is a great tool for resistance exercises, and can allow you to perform strengthening exercises for your upper body without having to leave your own home.
Upper body strength is important for maintaining good posture, can make breathing easier, and will ensure you can perform activities involving lifting, pushing, and twisting, well into older adulthood. Strengthening your upper body into older adulthood can become difficult without the access to weights; however, exercise tubing, which can be purchased at any major sports or department store, can be used at home, or even away when traveling on your summer vacation. They can be used by people at any level, and are therefore particularly accessible for the older adult. For the exercises that involve securing the tubing into a door jam, instructions on how to do so are usually included with the tubing.

The One arm chest squeeze is a good exercise for the chest and shoulders. To perform the one arm chest squeeze, place your exercise band around a post or door jam at shoulder height. Stand facing the band and turn your body a quarter turn to the right. Start with your left arm extended to the side, level with your shoulder. Bring the band just past your navel, squeeze your chest muscles on the left side and slowly return to the starting position. You should feel this exercise in your chest, and in the front of your shoulders. To make this exercise more comfortable, stand closer to where the band is secured. Perform two sets of 10 repetitions, with a break in between your sets; your break can be as long as you feel you need, but 45 seconds should be sufficient.

Two arm rows work to isolate the muscles of your upper and mid back, and can also be performed with an exercise band in a door jam. Place your exercise band around a post or door jam at chest level. Stand with your body straight, and arms extended. Pull your elbows and shoulders back as if you are rowing a boat. Squeeze your upper and mid-back muscles and return to the starting position. Ensure that you are performing a controlled movement, using only your arms, ensuring you do not swing your back. You can decrease the intensity by standing farther away from where the band is secured. Perform two sets of 10 repetitions, with a 45-second break between your sets.

To perform Tricep Pushdowns, place your exercise band around the top of a door. Hold the band near the ends, with your hands apart. Push the band towards the floor, extending your arms until they are straight. Squeeze your triceps (the muscles in the back of your arms,) and slowly return to the starting position. To decrease the intensity, keep your hands near the end of the band; to increase, raise your hands a few inches on the band. Make sure you stand closely to the door to ensure that the band does not slip off of the door. Perform two sets of 10 repetitions, with a 45-second break between your sets.

These exercises can be performed in conjunction with lower body, and cardiovascular, exercises. Pay attention to your body when performing these exercises; it’s great to feel a challenge, but pay attention if your body is telling you to modify the exercise. To prevent any over-exertion to your muscles, do some light stretching before performing any exercises; if you are feeling short of breath, take longer breaks in between sets. Performing these exercises two to three times weekly is sufficient; however, if you find you are feeling particularly fatigued from the exercises, make sure you are taking a minimum of a 24-hour break in between your workouts, and progress at a rate that feels comfortable, yet challenging, for you.

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