If you’ve ever “felt strong” then you know what it feels like to have your muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments supporting your body weight with ease. Feeling strong allows you to move around at a better pace, be more upbeat, and it keeps you feeling happier and healthier. So what’s the secret to staying strong no matter your age?
Luckily, staying strong at any age is not difficult, and there is no secret! Alternatively, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and you have to find the right balance for your needs and lifestyles.
If you’re keen on staying strong even as you age, then read on to learn the smart ways to do so, tips, and tricks!
Why It’s Important to Stay Strong
When you hear the word strong, we don’t want you to picture bodybuilders or super-muscly individuals. Strong refers to the ability to pick things up, walk around, or move with greater ease and power. Strength is also relative, so someone might feel strong even though they can’t lift the same amount of weight as a 200-pound bodybuilder. So when we look at strength for aging, we need to look at what is important for your body and to find the balance that your body needs.
It’s important to stay strong throughout our lives because the tensile strength of our muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons are a necessary part of our daily life. If we neglected our muscle strength in our legs, for example, then we might be more sluggish, less likely to be moving around, less likely to walk up and down stairs, and we might have trouble getting up and down from a chair or the floor.
As we age, these things are actually very important. If our muscle strength begins to decrease, then we increase the likelihood of falling down, which can cause detrimental effects in our daily lives. If we fall as an older adult, then we may have to rely on friends and family for support. If that’s not possible, then we may have to turn to disability or other types of social support.
Unfortunately, decreased strength can lead to many negative health effects as we age. It might affect our mental health, our cognitive health, and our willingness to be social. This is why staying “strong,” or relatively strong, is important at any age. And it’s actually relatively easy to do so, as long as you have the right health education and the willingness to try new things.
Staying Strong at Any Age
Staying strong at any age is possible, and this is the case for someone of any lifestyle, any class, gender, or ability. How we do it might differ based on your individual needs, your lifestyle, your interest and other factors. However, recognize that you can figure out your own tailored solution for staying strong even as you age.
There are some key characteristics that I want you to keep in mind when you seek solutions for staying strong, no matter what your age is.
Here they are:
- Be reasonable with yourself: I think this is particularly important as we age. The older we get, the less we begin to recognize our bodies as those we used in our youth. So, we might have felt strong in our 20’s, but this might have been due to genetics, youth, or perhaps a certain workout regimen. It’s not reasonable to think that the strong feeling you have in your 40s and 50s is the same that you had when you were younger. And this is okay! Be reasonable with what you can do and your physical expectations.
- It’s okay to seek support: When we look at exercising, improved lifestyle regimens, and so on, everybody has their two cents. This is, again, fine, but it doesn’t make the process any more enjoyable for you! Instead, try to find a few resources that you can turn to for support. This might be a life coach, a nutritionist, a personal trainer, a blog, a magazine, or perhaps a Youtube video. Find someone that speaks your language and rely on them for motivation, consistency, expert knowledge, or ideas. You might even turn to friends and family to find exercise regimens that work for them and adapt your work out regimens.
- Don’t give up so easily: As we get started, it can be so difficult to keep going. And as we keep going, it can be so easy to give up and not realize it. Prioritize healthy activities, like strength-based exercises that can be easily incorporated into your day, that way you do them without thinking about it. If you skip a weight training session (if that’s what you had planned) then you know that you have some strength-based exercises that you are doing every day.
- Try your hand at weights and resistance training: There is a range of ways to build strength, and many of these are found in resistance training and weight training exercises. Find some dumbbells that you can have in your home, as well as bands and a mat. You can then look up easy exercises, or find an app that randomizes bodyweight exercises for you. You might have to learn some of the cues (and at this point, I would remind you, don’t give up so easily), but then once you do, the exercises can be repeated as often or as little as you like.
It’s important to consider that how we feel about ourselves will determine if we are willing to go out there and be active. So many people have overcome adversity, and you might have to try your hand at some creative problem solving to find a solution for your unique needs. But it’s out there! And there are loads of resources available online.
Exercises for Staying Strong at Any Age
There are some key exercises (or rather, exercise types) that improve strength. These exercises might need to be adapted by your age, but doing so will improve your chances of the exercises being completed.
Note that you do not need to be a certain age to complete the following exercises. And that’s the point! These are exercises that we likely do every day in some shape or form:
Here are my top exercises for staying strong- at any age:
- Push-ups: You can start by holding your body up in the push-up position, either with your hands on the ground, arms straight and your legs straight. You would look flat, like you’re holding out a plant. If this is difficult, then modify the push-up position and go to your knees. You can even place a soft mat under your knees. No matter what you need to do to get it done, start building your arm strength for better upper back strength and posture.
- Easy squats: Bending at the knees helps build tensile strength in the knee joint (the tendons and ligaments) and asks our quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves to work in a way that is not altogether normal. Think of easy squats like shortened squats. You can try slowly sitting down in a chair and trying to get up without momentum.
- Walking up and down stairs: Going up the stairs might get you out of breath. Remember that going down the stairs is just as important! Going down the stairs increases the ability of your hamstring (the muscle on the back of your thigh) to activate and slow your body down. This helps catch yourself if you fall!
- Walking or running: As often as you can, keep walking around or running as this builds muscle strength and neuromuscular patterns. Consider a Couch to 5K program!
- Crunches, or an ab exercise: When belly fat builds around your waist, it is linked to serious health issues, like vascular health, heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes, and more. Try to find some ab exercise like a simple crunch or static hold so that you build up these muscles. This will also help with posture and back pain! Remember to relax your neck when doing these exercises so that you don’t strain the muscles in your neck and upper back.
Now, you may have recognized some of these exercises and perhaps were disappointed that they were not that “exciting.” This is because the exercises that will help you stay strong at any age should not be too challenging and should be able to be simple, easy to remember, easy to do, and easily modified. In fact, they should be something that you practice at every age so that you can consistently improve and see progress!
Smart Ways to Improve Your Muscle Growth
Now, let’s put this all together!
If you’re seeking precision health at any age, then you need to be smart about it! This might include setting SMART goals—goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
- Specific: Don’t write out a generic plan of “exercise 5 days a week.” Pick an exercise and map it out, that way you have a better idea of what you doing on each of those workout days.
- Measurable: It helps to do something repeatedly and to measure that exercise so that you can see progress. If you run a 5k, do it again and again so that you can see your improvement.
- Achievable: Can you actually run a 5k? It’s okay if you can’t, but it would be nice to have a goal that you could hit. Start with a short-term goal like walking 5k total in a week. A long-term goal could be walking 5k in a day or multiple times a week!
- Realistic: This is the best one! What are you actually up for doing? If your goal is to see measurable muscle growth in your arms, is that realistic? Do you have a plan for achieving that? Or are you just throwing things out there?
- Timely: It helps again to have short- and long-term targets. Start with daily targets, like getting up from your work desk every hour. And also set weekly and monthly targets.
Being smart about staying strong at any age is about knowing yourself and knowing what you need. Don’t overdo it and don’t try to do something that is crazy or exciting. Sometimes the boring stuff is best, and it will actually help you to see progress, to feel improvement, and to be excited about working out the next day!