Only about 40 percent of older adults engage in regular physical activity and even fewer do strength training, according to the Healthy Aging Research Network. By incorporating resistance cord training into your morning routine, you’ll wake up your muscles and strengthen them. A resistance cord is an elastic cord with handles on each end. When stretched, the cord provides resistance, challenging your muscles to stretch the cord, as well as to stabilize against the elasticity. Many seniors enjoy using a resistance cord because it’s an inexpensive, transportable, easy-to-use tool for improving strength, flexibility and balance.
Muscle Strength and Flexibility
As you age, your muscle size and strength decline. Between age 60 and 80, your muscle strength will decline by approximately 15 percent per decade. After age 80, the decline increases to about 30-percent, says the American College of Sports Medicine. But this doesn’t have to happen. A primary cause of muscle loss is disuse. Resistance cord training preserves or improves muscle size and strength, thus improving balance and functional ability. Resistance cord exercises also help stretch muscles to improve flexibility and range of motion.
Upper Body Exercises
To work your upper body, hold the cord with your hands about a foot apart. Gently stretch the cord and lift your hands from hip height up in front of your chest, then overhead. When overhead, let your arms open out against the cord. Slowly bring it back down in front of your hips. Next, sit down and place the cord under the arch of one foot and hold the handles. Bend your elbows and pull them behind you as if you are pulling a horse’s reins. Repeat with the band under the other foot. Finally, wrap the band around your back and straighten your elbows to press your hands forward, in front of your chest.
Lower Body Exercises
To exercise your lower body, lie on your bed and place the cord under the arch of one foot. Hold one end of the band in each hand. Bring the knee of the leg with the cord toward your chest. Straighten your leg up toward the ceiling then slowly lower the straight leg down toward your bed. Continue, as if you are riding a bicycle with one leg. Next, straighten your leg toward the ceiling, or as high as you can get it. Flex your ankle and press your heel away from your body to stretch your calf. With your ankle flexed, bend your knee and bring it toward your chest then straighten your leg again. Lower your leg toward the bed. Point and flex your ankle, then draw circles with your foot, rotating from the ankle. Finally, straighten your leg up toward the ceiling, then open it out to the side, bringing your foot toward the bed beside you. Repeat each exercise on both legs.
Things to Consider
Before you begin strength training, warm up with some rhythmic movements to increase your heart rate and get your blood circulating. When you do your resistance cord exercises, exhale and engage your core muscles as you stretch the band. Repeat each exercise 10 to 15 times. If something hurts, modify the movement so it doesn’t hurt or stop doing it altogether.
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