As we age, it’s only natural to be on the hunt for the one magic potion that can help us feel our best and delay the unwanted effects of aging. You might be surprised to learn that this elixir we search for isn’t an elixir at all. In fact, it isn’t even something you can buy. It’s something we can we can create with a few exercises.
“Strength is the fountain of youth,” says kinesiologist and certified exercise physiologist Gavin McHale.
McHale says strengthening exercises for older adults not only help build muscle, they help reduce symptoms of chronic diseases, depression and pain, which allows older adults to remain active.
And according to the National Institutes of Health, even small changes in muscle strength make a real impact on your ability to perform daily tasks like taking in the groceries, picking up your grandchildren or even just getting up from a chair or bed.
Here are 5 simple strengthening exercises you can try at home.
1. Hip Bridges
Hip bridges help to open up your hips as well as work your glutes. If you sit a lot during the day, you may find yourself with tight hips, and hip bridges can help, says McHale.
How to do them: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Flatten your lower back against the floor, squeeze your butt muscles and lift your hips into the air. When you lift your hips, push through your feet like you’re trying to push your toes out of the front of your shoes, then slowly lower.
2. Side Arm Raises
These exercises help strengthen your shoulders, which can help with lifting those groceries and grandchildren.
How to do them: Find a comfortable seated or standing position and get a comfortable using, starting with about a pound each and then getting increasingly heavier. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor and hold your weights straight down with your palms facing forward. Exhale and raise both arms to shoulder height. Hold the position for one second, then lower and repeat.
3. Chair Squats
Squats help to strengthen your entire lower half, which can help with picking things up off the floor or getting up from a chair.
How to do them: Stand with your feet hip-width apart in front of a chair. Push your hips back and bend your legs and lower your body like you’re going to sit in the chair—your upper body should only be slightly leaning forward. To come out of the squat, push through your feet, squeeze your butt muscles and return to standing.
4. Knee Curls
These exercises help to strengthen the upper leg muscles, which can make walking and climbing stairs easier.
How to do them: Hold on to the back of a sturdy chair and lift one leg straight back without bending the knee or pointing the toes. Exhale and bring your heel up toward your butt. Keep your hips still and bend only from the knee. Hold the position for one second then slowly lower your foot to the floor and repeat.
5. Wall Angels
Like their snowy equivalent, wall angels help to open up the chest, improve posture and ease back pain while strengthening your shoulders.
How to do them: Stand with your back flat against a wall and keep your feet about 3 to 6 inches from the wall. Keep the back of your head touching the wall and your arms at your sides. Then, tuck your chin to your chest, turn your palms out slowly raise your arms out to the sides (so you look like a football goal post). Raise your arms as high as you can without bending them and remember to maintain contact with the wall.
Even if you aren’t looking for the fountain of youth, these simple strengthening exercises for older adults can help you add more movement to your day, ease pain and help you get around easier—and who doesn’t want that?