The good news is that muscle mass can increase at any age in response to exercise. In an important study of weight lifting and older adults conducted with 100 male and female residents of a nursing home in Boston (age range: 72 to 98 years of age; average age 87), subjects lifted weights with their legs three times a week for 10 weeks. At the end of the study, there was an increase in thigh mass of 2.7%, walking speed increased 12%, and leg strength increased a whopping 113%! In a similar study of adults 65-79 years old, subjects who lifted weights three times a week for three months increased their walking endurance by 38% (from 25 minutes to 34 minutes) without appreciable increases in mass. Ida Weiss, a 91-year-old participant in the Boston study, had the following to say after the study, "It's very beneficial for me. Things that I couldn't do when I came here, I can do now. I didn't think that I was going to live anymore, but I feel different now."


Remember, you are never too old to start exercising, and strength training in particular only becomes more important with age. My mom is an excellent example of this. She didn't take up strength training until the age of 74! Now, several years later, she's a testament to the fact that you can gain significant improvements in strength, range of motion, balance, bone density, and mental clarity, even if you get a late start.
Research suggests that as many as 14% of males and 18% of females over age 55 are depressed. It has been documented, in younger adults, that exercise can alleviate symptoms of depression and even compete with the effects of antidepressant medication or psychotherapy in terms of effectiveness. Unfortunately, there is very little research on the effects of exercise on depression in older adults. What is fair to say is that exercise has a mood-elevating effect in most adults, whatever their age, even if it's not the cure for depression in the elderly. Talk to most anyone who exercises, no matter what their age, and they will report what used to be called a "feel-good" phenomenon after exercise. Whether it's from getting the heart beating or the blood pumping, from invigorating brain cells, or simply getting out in the fresh air, a good dose of exercise typically improves mood, and so is recommended for virtually everyone.
Stability is the newest class designed to help you become stronger and improve balance. The movements taught in class focus on specific exercises to improve strength and power around the ankle, knee and hip joints, while improving your reaction time. This class is designed for fall prevention and is suitable for nearly every fitness level. It can be adapted depending on the skill of individual participants. A chair may be used for balance and support....
Learn how to prep, brew, ferment, and bottle your own beer. Homebrewing is an art form, but don't let that scare you. It's not as difficult as you may think. Purchase an at-home starter kit to point you in the right direction or sign up for a workshop. Once you're confident in your technique, start experimenting with different flavors. For honest reviews let your friends do the taste-testing.
On any matter relating to your health or well-being, please check with an appropriate health professional. No statement herein is to be construed as a diagnosis, treatment, preventative, or cure for any disease, disorder or abnormal physical state. The statements herein have not been evaluated by the Foods and Drugs Administration or Health Canada. Dr. Marchione and the doctors on the Bel Marra Health Editorial Team are compensated by Bel Marra Health for their work in creating content, consulting along with formulating and endorsing products.
Look into investing in one of your favorite local companies. Locally owned businesses help to improve the economy more than global companies and often times sustained tourism, entrepreneurship, social equality, and political participation. Find more information on why you should invest locally here. You can also join a business club like SCORE to help make connections in your community.

If you love taking care of others consider becoming a nanny or pet sitter! Care.com is a great site that allows you to create a profile, apply to job listings, communicate with potential families, and even receive pay...all without leaving the site. Basic profile functions are free, but for a low monthly payment you can upgrade your account and better market your skills.
Get ready to move through a complete series of seated and standing yoga poses. Chair support is offered so you can perform a variety of seated and standing postures designed to increase flexibility, balance and range of movement. Restorative breathing exercises and final relaxation will promote stress reduction and mental clarity. This class is suitable for nearly every fitness level....
Look into investing in one of your favorite local companies. Locally owned businesses help to improve the economy more than global companies and often times sustained tourism, entrepreneurship, social equality, and political participation. Find more information on why you should invest locally here. You can also join a business club like SCORE to help make connections in your community.

Strength training differs from cardiovascular training. One involves aerobic training, whereas, the other involves working and strengthening your muscles. According to Wikipedia, strength training is “…a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles.”

Resistance exercise (weight lifting, calisthenics): To promote and maintain health and physical independence, older adults will benefit from performing activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for a minimum of two days each week. It is recommended that eight to 10 exercises be performed on two or more nonconsecutive days per week using the major muscle groups.

Exercise benefits much more than just the body — you can also improve your mental and emotional health by maintaining an active life. And if you have fun while you’re being active, chances are you’ll want to continue participating in that activity. Join a walking group so you can exercise and socialize at the same time, listen to music while you garden or work outside, call a friend and take a water aerobics class together, or join an organized club or sport. Stay active, stay involved, and you’ll stay healthy!
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Turn your living room into your office and work from home. Tutoring, customer support, writing, data entry, and virtual assistance are just a few positions typically available to those looking to work from home. You can find job openings on sites like these, but be careful of scams and know what signs to look out for before releasing any personal information.
Love treadmills? One con, Smith notes, is that a motorized treadmill can do too much of the work for you. You need to elevate the walking surface a few degrees just to match the effort of walking on flat ground. Your fix: Once you can walk on the treadmill comfortably, don’t be afraid to bump up the incline or intensity. Learn how in our beginner’s guide to the treadmill.

For those in skilled nursing care, activities should be geared towards those that are right for the physical limitations and abilities of the individual. Many are unable to do a lot of physical activities but may enjoy the one-on-one time with friends playing games or watching movies together. It is also possible to enjoy activities such as crafts that can be done without getting out of bed.
To stretch your quadriceps, start by standing behind a chair and grabbing it with your right hand. Bend your left leg behind you and grab your foot with your left hand, making sure to keep the thigh as close to perpendicular to the floor as possible. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds or long enough that you feel the stretch in front of the bent thigh. Release the foot and repeat on the other side. The National Institute on Aging Web site features other great stretches for the lower body, including the hamstring and calf muscles.
Running: It seems like the most natural way to get into better shape. Bodies are designed to run, right? Yes, but only bodies that are young and relatively lean. For older and generally heavier bodies, the repeated impact of running can cause real damage when you begin late in life. You take more than 2,000 strides per mile, and with each one, you land with a force equivalent to three to four times your body’s weight.

I volunteer at a convalescent hospital. They don't have a large budget and I feel that the very few activities for seniors they have are belittling and mundane. The activities for seniors include a slow paced sort of volleyball (basically playing catch) and "sittercise" where they do various arm movements, ie: swimming, boxing, and driving motions. This works for certain patients, but others are bored by it. I think they could all use/enjoy a little variety in their routine, regardless of cognitive and physical states (within reason of course). I need help thinking of low to no-cost activities for seniors to make life more enjoyable.


As you age, testosterone levels can decline. Contrary to popular belief, both men and women have testosterone. Believe it or not, testosterone plays a large part in maintaining your long-term health, and keeping levels high is important. If testosterone is too low, not only does it affect sex drive, but you can experience reduced energy as well as increased depression, aggression, and other mood disorders, along with an increased loss of muscle mass. One of the ways you can keep those testosterone levels high is by adding regular resistance training to your regimen.
There's no need to try and make up for years of inactivity overnight. In fact, you could get injured or quickly become burned out by doing that. Instead, start slowly and build up gradually. If that means starting with just five minutes of walking, then that's what you ought to do. In fact, one of my favorite plans to recommend for getting started is the five-minutes-out, five-minutes-back plan. Just like it sounds, you walk out for five minutes, turn around, and walk back. That's it...10 minutes of walking, and off you go about your day. If you feel ambitious, you can do seven and a half or even 10 minutes out and back, and add some stretching when you finish if you like. One of the best ways to get motivated and stay that way is to set goals. I suggest that you set a weekly exercise plan, starting today for the week coming up. Write down what day(s) of the week, what time of day, minutes of activity, and the activity that you'll do. Be as specific and realistic as possible, and remember that it's not how much you do when you get started but that you simply get started. Keep setting and reviewing your goals weekly for at least three months. That way you'll be sure to stay on track and build exercise into your life as a habit.

The good news here is that muscle patterning improves within days of starting a weight-lifting program, even without any increase in muscle mass. This explains the 113% increase in strength experienced by the residents of the nursing home in Boston in the previously cited study. In a different study that specifically investigated this phenomenon, 67- to 81-year-old men lifted weights for six weeks while hooked up to electrodes that measured their nerve and muscle patterning (an electromyogram machine). The results showed that the men experienced a 25% increase in the patterning of the muscle along with a 35% increase in strength, all without significant increases in size.
Exercise benefits much more than just the body — you can also improve your mental and emotional health by maintaining an active life. And if you have fun while you’re being active, chances are you’ll want to continue participating in that activity. Join a walking group so you can exercise and socialize at the same time, listen to music while you garden or work outside, call a friend and take a water aerobics class together, or join an organized club or sport. Stay active, stay involved, and you’ll stay healthy!

Balance decreases as we age, and consequently, falling is a major concern for the elderly. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of every three Americans over the age of 65 falls each year, and among individuals 65-84, falls account for 87% of all fractures and are the second leading cause of spinal cord and brain injury. The good news is that physical activity can improve balance and reduce the risk of falling. The results of a study of 256 older adults (70 to 92 years of age, average age 77) who participated in tai chi for six months found that there were 52% fewer falls in the individuals who did tai chi compared to those who didn't.
In two different studies—one of men 50-70 years of age who lifted weights three times a week for 16 weeks, and the other of women 40-70 years of age who lifted twice a week for one year, bone density in the leg and back was shown to increase. There is also some evidence that walking can increase bone density in the hips and lower back, but the recommendation for frequency and intensity of the walking is not clear. What is clear is that exercise does help build or preserve bone density, and so it is recommended that we stay active for the sake of our bones and overall health.

One new craze in long-term care settings is the Wii. This popular electronic game center for kids is a winner with seniors, too. In addition to providing brain challenges, it provides opportunities for physical activity as well. A large flat screen TV makes it even more fun since it is easier to see. This is a one time expense that can be used over and over. If the hospital’s recreation budget can't cover it, try asking churches or local civic organizations to help raise money or donate used goods. Wii bowling, tennis, boxing, golf and a game called Brain Age offer physical and cognitive exercise.


One of the most exciting areas of exercise research is the investigation of cognitive function. What scientists have learned so far is that brain neurons, the special cells that help you think, move, perform all the bodily functions that keep you alive, and even help your memory, all increase in number after just a few days or weeks of regular activity. In a study in which researchers used an MRI machine to measure the amount of brain tissue in adults 55 years of age and older, they found results, consistent with other studies of aging and brain volume, showing there were substantial declines in brain tissue density as a function of age in areas of the brain responsible for thinking and memory, but importantly, the losses in these areas were substantially reduced as a function of cardiovascular fitness. In other words, the fittest individuals had the most brain tissue.

Love treadmills? One con, Smith notes, is that a motorized treadmill can do too much of the work for you. You need to elevate the walking surface a few degrees just to match the effort of walking on flat ground. Your fix: Once you can walk on the treadmill comfortably, don’t be afraid to bump up the incline or intensity. Learn how in our beginner’s guide to the treadmill.

Factors like limited mobility and pain can make a difference in the types of exercises you're are able to do . Low-impact exercises allow for less strain on the body while still providing a means of staying physically active. Also, low-impact exercises can help older adults ease into a new workout program. Exercising in the water, whether swimming or doing water aerobics, is a good option, as are gentle forms of yoga, Pilates, tai chi, stretching, and light weight training. Remember that many exercises can be modified to accommodate low-impact needs — ask your physician or fitness expert about ways to adapt these activities.
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