As we age, the effects of daily living can take a toll on our bodies. Sitting at an ergonomically-challenged desk setup or spending hours driving can result in discomfort and stiffness. One way to combat these issues is to keep our bodies moving. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults over 65 engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week to prevent muscle loss, chronic illnesses, and mobility issues. Resistance band exercises are a particularly effective way for seniors to stay active. This 14-minute workout, put together by Crunch fitness instructor Liz Fichtner, focuses on using resistance bands to improve mobility, balance, and posture. Trust us, it will make a significant difference!
Benefits of Resistance Band Exercises for Seniors
Gentle on the Joints
Resistance bands provide a low-impact option for older adults to enhance muscle strength and mobility. According to Floery Mahoney, founder of fitness studio Board30, the smooth and constant tension of the bands is beneficial for the joints and can even help strengthen them over time.
Resistance bands are incredibly versatile, which is a major advantage for seniors. These bands can be anchored on various parts of the body, such as the arms, thighs, or feet, allowing for a wide range of rotational and lateral movements. This, in turn, targets muscles that improve balance and posture.
Accessible Strength Training
Resistance bands are easy to use and come in different levels of resistance. You can choose the band that suits your body and strength for each exercise. These affordable at-home workout tools make strength training more accessible. You can follow along with Liz Fichtner at home, eliminating the need for a gym membership or scheduled class. For a well-rounded fitness session, pair this workout with a walk, bike ride, or your favorite cardiovascular activity.
“I hope this workout leaves you feeling more mobile, taller, and empowered by your improved balance,” says Fichtner.
At-Home Resistance Band Exercises for Seniors
Equipment needed: A resistance band of your desired weight. Resistance bands are available in various levels of resistance, from very light to extra heavy. You may also find it helpful to have a yoga block or pillow to sit on. “The yoga block helps lower my knees and gives me some height,” Fichtner explains.
Who is this for? Seniors who want to improve their mobility, posture, and balance.
Format: Fichtner will guide you through a series of exercises using a resistance band.
Arm Lift Side Bends
With the resistance band held taut between your hands, inhale and lift it above your head. Then, lean to the left. Inhale again and lean to the opposite side. Lower your arms back down to the floor.
Above-Head Arm Lifts
Keep your arms extended and hold the resistance band taut between your hands. Lift the band above and slightly behind your head. Hold this position briefly, then lower the band. Repeat this movement at least two more times.
To challenge yourself further, lift the band and, instead of holding it, bring your arms behind your head in one fluid motion, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Afterward, place the band on the floor and take a short break, performing gentle shoulder circles in both directions.
Arm Lifts and Shoulder Rotations
With the resistance band positioned above your head and your arms wide, bring your left bicep toward your left ear and extend your right arm straight out to the side. Then, bring your right shoulder forward, achieving internal rotation, and move your arm behind your back. “This exercise promotes shoulder mobility,” notes Fichtner.
Switch sides and repeat the movement on the other side.
Finish by performing gentle shoulder rolls in both directions once again.
This exercise focuses on spinal flexion. Get on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, making sure your fingers are spread wide, wrists are under your shoulders, and knees are under your hips. Arch your back and look forward for the “cow” position. Then, round your upper back, tuck your pelvis and chin, and push the floor away for the “cat” position. Repeat this sequence several times, adding lateral movement by circling your ribs to the left and right.
Standing Resistance Band Forward Push
Stand up and hold the resistance band behind your back, right at your bra line or scapula. As you wrap the band around your torso, grab the ends with your arms bent at 90 degrees. Round your upper body and push your arms forward. While returning to a standing position, bring your elbows back to your body, engaging your shoulder blades. Repeat this movement four more times.
“This exercise is excellent for improving your posture, helping you identify where you tend to round your upper body, and teaching you how to bring your shoulder blades together,” explains Fichtner.
Resistance Side Reach
Position the resistance band behind your body, resting it at your glute area. Grab the ends of the band with your palms facing forward, and let your pinkies rest by your hips.
Pay attention to how straight your arms become. “Most seniors can’t fully extend their arms, and that’s perfectly fine,” assures Fichtner. “You’ll get there eventually.”
Extend one arm at a time to the side, focusing on reaching downward and away. Alternate sides and continue to alternate between arms.
“Do you feel taller, more in control?” asks Fichtner. After trying this exercise individually with both arms, progress to extending both arms simultaneously.
Place the resistance band under your feet while holding the ends in each hand. Shift your weight gently onto your right foot and slide your left foot a few inches away, then slide it back. Repeat this motion several times.
Next, lift your foot, set it down, and return to your neutral stance. Eventually, progress to pulsing your foot out to the side a few times before bringing it back to center.
Switch sides and repeat the pattern, starting with the slides.
This modified lunge exercise, using the resistance band, emphasizes balance. Position the band behind your bra line with the ends wrapped around your hands. Step back into a lunge while simultaneously pushing the band forward with your arms. Return to a standing position and alternate sides, repeating for approximately 30 seconds. Pushing the band forward helps target core stability.