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Muscle Health and Exercise for Seniors

April 27, 2022
by TammyS | For Seniors
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Muscle Health and Exercise for Seniors

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As we age, our bodies change and can require a different type of exercise.  And, though we may have been able to just jog or run on the treadmill in our younger years, we now need different types of exercise to build strength and muscle mass.

Our body has three types of muscles - cardiac, smooth, and skeletal.

  • Cardiac muscle is striated (striped) and is found in the heart.  The purpose of cardiac muscle is to contract the heart in order to circulate blood throughout our body.  These muscles are controlled by the autonomic nervous system so are under involuntary control.
  • Smooth muscles are located in the walls of our hollow organs (liver, pancreas, blood vessels, bladder, uterus, intestines, etc.) and are also under autonomic or involuntary control.  These muscles are also the ones that cause the hair on arms to stand up if we are cold or afraid and dilate and contract the iris.
  • Skeletal muscles are attached to bones.  They are support for the skeleton, keeping bones in place, aiding in movement, contributing to form, and are under conscious or voluntary control.  Skeletal muscles:
    • Are responsible for body movements such as breathing, throwing a ball, walking, writing, etc. The muscles contract which pulls the tendons on the bones that causes us to be able to move.
    • Posture is supported by skeletal muscles.
    • Protect internal organs and tissues from injury and provide support to certain internal organs.
    • Support the entry and exit points of the body. The sphincter muscles are present around the anus, mouth, and the urinary tract. These muscles contract which reduces the size of the openings and facilitates the swallowing of food, defecation, and urination.
    • Regulate body temperature. After a strenuous exercise, the body feels hot. This is due to the contraction of skeletal muscles which converts energy into heat.

Given everything that skeletal muscles do, it is vitally important we incorporate exercises to keep these muscles as strong as possible.  Below are several useful links to exercising for seniors 50 years and over, including armchair stretching exercises.

*As always, consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.*

Exercising in your 50s and beyond: Tips from a doctor and fitness pros - CNET

Working Out When You're Over 50 (webmd.com)

The 15 Best Exercises for Losing Weight and Building Muscle After 50 (bestlifeonline.com)

18 Chair Exercises for Seniors & How to Get Started - Vive Health

armchair stretching execises for seniors - Bing video


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