By Rachel Lankester, Mutton Club Editor
It becomes ever more important for us to do resistance training as we get older. We lose muscle strength and muscle mass as we age and if we don’t do strength training, as well as other forms of exercise, aerobic, weight-bearing and stretching, we can suffer as a result. We all need this at any age and especially over 60. But prioritizing this is especially important for women, because of the changes that come in midlife through the menopause.
There’s a simple tool that can help us do resistance training at home or even when we’re travelling – resistance bands. I’m a huge fan of these and take my mini bands everywhere! Here we take a look at some of the best resistance band exercises for over 60 (and younger) that get you the best bang for your buck in terms of impact and time needed to achieve results. This isn’t about how you look, but how strong and mobile you stay.
Benefits of resistance band exercises for anyone over 60
- Any resistance training helps us maintain muscle mass which is good for our metabolism as well as a general strength and mobility as we get older. It’s a fundamental part of an active lifestyle. Resistance bands make it that much easier.
- Resistance exercises can help us maintain lower and upper body strength. When we’re able to strengthen all muscle groups, we maintain our mobility in later life, as well as our ability to lift things. We won’t have to rely on other people to lift our luggage into the luggage rack, for example. Nor have to seek assistance when getting up from a seated position when we get older.
- When we do resistance training we mobilize and strengthen our joints. These are likely to get more painful as we get older, but regularly moving and training them will reduce that and make them ever stronger.
- Our balance and stability reduce as we age so it’s really important to work on these. Resistance training can be used to strengthen our whole body because we are strengthening individual muscles making the whole body more stable.
- When we do resistance training and maintain our muscle mass, that keeps our metabolism from dropping as it naturally does with age. Muscle burns calories faster than fat and it’s much healthier to have lean muscle rather than fat accumulating on our bodies. Having more muscle and a higher metabolism, help us maintain a healthy weight as we get older.
- We can also support our bone density by doing resistance training as well as weight-bearing exercise such as walking, running or jumping.
An easy way to do resistance training at home or when travelling
An easy way to incorporate resistance exercise into daily life is to use resistance bands in your exercise routine. Dumbbells and other weights like kettle bells are all useful things to have in a home gym, if you have enough space. But resistance bands are the lightest, easiest, most versatile way to do resistance training without needing big heavy weights.
Resistance bands can be easily and cheaply purchased online, and come in a variety of forms. The main types of resistance bands are smaller round bands which often come as a mini band, or longer ones with handles on the ends of the resistance band. Longer bands can also be attached to a wall or over a closed door using door attachments to enable a full-body workout.
There is also a suspension trainer or TRX, which uses non-stretchy bands attached to a hook high up on the wall or frame or even a tree branch, for which there are a whole range of bodyweight exercises that can be done. Stretchy resistance bands come in a range of different resistance levels from very light to very heavy to suit every fitness level. Start with the lighter version and build up to the heavier ones as you would with any weight training.
I love my mini bands which I always take with me when travelling. I find they’re a great way to get exercise on the move. Also, I recently had a knee injury from running with bad posture and tight hip flexors, and have been using my mini bands with my physio for physical therapy to strengthen my glutes and thigh muscles on my weaker, tighter side. I’m doing this by doing a clamshell exercise with a mini band round my thighs (and feet raised) and a banded bridge pose to increase mobility and strength in my hips. Bridge pose is reported to be good for lowering high blood pressure too.
Some of the resistance exercises it’s possible to do with bands
If you’re creative, you can make use of resistance bands for a full body workout even when you’re away from home and not at the gym. You can strengthen every major muscle group with them and replicate many traditional dumbbell exercises. Just by kneeling on a mini band you can then do a full bicep curl, for example.
Here’s how to do a deadlift with a resistance band which works almost every muscle in the body. Just be careful with your form. If you don’t already know how to do this consult a personal trainer or a good video online showing the correct form.
There are lots of resistance band workouts online, especially on YouTube, for all different levels, and if any appear too strenuous for you, they can always be adapted to suit all ages including older adults. Resistance band exercises for anyone over 60 needn’t be complicated or hard.
Here’s a great workout for beginners and seniors with less mobility from a mother and daughter team, daughter standing and mother sitting. I’m thinking of doing this with my mum! This is for exercising all the muscle groups and working on stability.
A TRX or suspension trainer uses a different type of band which isn’t stretchy. A lot of strength exercises can be done with this using your own body weight. You do need a good study anchor to enable use of a suspension trainer or TRX. I have an anchor on my house wall in the garden, which I find is a great place to do a complete workout when the weather’s good!
There are some good TRX accounts on Instagram that give me ideas for exercises. Here’s a great video showing the range of exercises you can do with the TRX, mostly from a standing position, for core strength, balance, lower body strength, upper arms, abdominal muscles and stretching hard to reach areas like the upper back, lower back and shoulder blades. It’s a very versatile piece of kit.
The best resistance bands I’ve found
These go everywhere with me!
For bands with a handle, I like this type because it has a fabric cover over the tube and is therefore gentler on your skin. They also come with an anchor for attaching above a door.
You can attach a suspension trainer or TRX in a variety of places. I use the bracket below to use it in my back garden.
Don’t forget, you can pretty much do any strength training exercise with resistance bands. I hope you find this rundown of the best resistance band exercises for anyone over 60 (and younger) useful. And I hope you enjoy resistance band training as much as I do. I’ve found them to be truly transforming and especially helpful when exercising at home or keeping up your movement when travelling. Have fun!
Rachel Lankester is the founder of Magnificent Midlife, author, host of the Magnificent Midlife Podcast, a midlife mentor and editor of the Mutton Club online magazine. After an initially devastating early menopause at 41, she dedicated herself to helping women vibrantly transition through the sometimes messy middle of life, helping them cope better with menopause and ageing in general, and create magnificent next chapters. She’s been featured in/on BBC Woman’s Hour, The Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, The Age Buster, Woman’s Weekly, Prima Magazine, eShe, Tatler HK and Woman’s Own amongst others. She believes we just get better with age. Get her book Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause and Beyond which was recommended in the New York Times.
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Last Updated on August 10, 2023 by Editorial Staff