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Exercise Bands Help Seniors' Fitness

Every year when the calendar flips over, people approach the New Year filled with good intentions and a list of resolutions.  Many of those resolutions concern exercise, even among seniors. 

Most of us know why exercise should be part of our life: reduced weight, toned muscles, and heart health. But exercise can also help with age-related health concerns including: improved balance and coordination, reduced stress, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol, and even improved mood.  Research shows that resistance exercise can improve functional independence and also reduce the risk of falls.

With all those benefits, seniors are wise to add an exercise program into their plan for healthy aging. But how? One easy solution is exercise bands.

What are they?

Originally developed by physical therapists to help patients recovering from injury or surgery, exercise bands are used for resistance training in the same way people use free weights or some exercise machines. The advantage of the bands is less risk of injury and a gentler, yet effective workout.

Exercise bands do feel different than other resistance devices, because their tension is continuous throughout the exercise.  However, you can control the amount of tension - and make the exercise easier - by lengthening or shortening the band. Choose a band with the right resistance (see photo).

Are all bands the same?

Long, thin latex bands, which look like ribbons, are suited to more gentle exercises and stretching.  Other bands are made of rubber tubing and have handles at each end.  Choose these for a more intense workout and to help build muscle.  However, the user must be able to grasp the handles.

What can I do with exercise bands?

Many popular weight exercises - from bicep curls to quad lifts - can be modified for exercise bands. In fact, you can work your whole body. Many videos, DVDs and books are available on the subject.  Check with your favourite bookstore or library. Before starting any exercise program check with your physician.

Where can I get exercise bands?
You can find bands at sporting goods stores, home health care stores, and most major department stores.

Exercise bands provide a portable, affordable, and reasonably safe way for older adults to exercise in the comfort of their own home.

"I watched a TV show for seniors on exercise while sitting safely in a chair. I started using the bands and was surprised by how much strength I gained in my arms."
 M.F.  Age 85

 

Vol.4, No. 1
© ElderWise Inc., 2008
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