Forget aerobics, pumping iron could help you live longer.
For 15 years, researchers followed over 30,000 people aged 65 and over to see how their fitness habits affected their life spans.
They found that those who lifted weights twice per week cut their risk of dying earlier by 46%, compared to those who strength trained less or not at all.
Despite the health benefits, only 9.6% of the study's participants regularly performed strength training activities like lifting weights, stair climbing or using resistance bands .
Strength training is beneficial to health as it increases bone density and strengthens muscles.
This can improve balance and stability, both of which are major factors in falls and fractures, which can be disabling to many older people.
For those who want to try strength training out at home, Shannon Jewell, club manager at Alex Fitness, recommends focusing on combining several movements linking your lower and upper body.
"Combining compound (multiple muscle) movements performed in a controlled manner will task your central nervous system, resulting in improved strength and balance gains," she explained.
"Both areas are key for anyone over the age of 65."
Before exercising, it's really important to warm up so you don't hurt yourself.
Tom Godwin, course tutor and developer at Train Fitness, says: "This will help to get you ready for the workout ahead and also reduce the risk of injury.
"It should involve an element that will help to increase the heart rate (pulse raiser) and some form of stretching (mobility)."
WARM UP EXERCISES
Walk on the spot | 6-8 minutes
A simple warm up involves walking on the spot. This should be done at a steady pace and your aim should be to slowly elevate your heart rate.
Do this for around 6-8 minutes and you should get your heart rate to a level where you feel it working but you’re not felling pain or discomfort.
Mobilisation | 3 minutes
Getting those joints working is important in helping to ensure that the body is ready for exercise.
By mobilising your joints you are helping to lubricate the system to make sure they are ready for the exercise to come.
This should take the form of moving each major joint through the full range of motion that is comfortable.
Forward arm circles | 1 minute
Start by rolling the shoulders forward, down, back and up in a circle.
Gradually bring the arm more into the movement until you are doing full arm circles.
Torso rotations | 1 minute
Standing tall, bring one shoulder forward, twisting at the hips. Then take it back and bring the other shoulder forward.
As the shoulder comes forward, reach the same arm forward as well.
Repeat this action bringing the arms into the movement more each time and gradually increasing the amount of twist in the movement.
Hip circles | 30 seconds per leg
Balancing on one leg and holding onto the back of a chair for support, lift your knee and draw a small circle with it out to the side.
Repeat this action slowly making the circle bigger each time. Do this for 30 seconds on each leg.
EXERCISE IDEAS FOR THE GYM
If you have a gym membership, Shannon Jewell recommends doing the following exercises as four sets, consisting of 10-15 reps with one minute rest between.
As strength improves, increase your weight and reduce your reps to between six and 10, she suggests.
Dumbbell sumo squat into shoulder press
Hold both dumbbells between your legs, standing much wider than your normal squatting stance.
Lower your body until the dumbbell hovers over the floor, slowly stand back up and bicep curl, then press the dumbbells over your head.
Keep your chest proud, back straight throughout and weight distributed towards your heels.
Split squat into lateral raise
Step into a wide stance with one foot in front of the other, toes facing forward.
Dip down from your hips and centre point, rather than slide forward.
Heel off at the back but the front of your foot should be flat on both the lowering and raising phase.
Put your shoulders back, eyes forward and dumbbells beside you.
Once you hit the top of the move, lift the dumbbells out to the side up to shoulder level and slowly lower. Keep elbows slightly bent.
Hold the kettle bell with both hands, lower your head with your back straight.
Move from the hips rather than bending your knees. Thrust your hips forward to accelerate the kettlebell in the air to chest height.
Keep hold of the kettlebell at all times. Focus swinging the kettlebell by squeezing your hips.
EXERCISE IDEAS FOR AT HOME
Do four sets of each exercise consisting of 20-30 reps, with a rest period of no more than one minute.
Place a chair or stool behind you. Position yourself into a wide squatting stand, lower your bum onto the stool, just lightly touch the chair and lift up.
Bulgarian split squats
Place your back foot on stairs or a sofa to raise the foot.
Face your toes forward and the front of your foot flat on the floor. Lower your body and slowly stand.
The focus should be on your front leg, especially your glutes and quads.
Wall press ups
Stand one metre away from a wall and place your hands directly on the wall, shoulder width apart.
Keep your feet close together with your head facing the wall, back straight and ankles, knees, hips and shoulders all in line angling towards the wall.
Bend your elbows at 45 degrees slowly lowering your chest towards the wall and raising back up. Avoid locking out your elbows.
COOL DOWN EXERCISES
"An effective cool down is vital as it helps to prevent blood pooling in the legs, and also reduces the risk of any post workout soreness," says Tom Godwin from Train Fitness.
Here are some exercises he recommends for cooling down after a workout:
Walk on the spot | 6-8 minutes
Slow down over time.
While seated you can do the following stretches. Each should be held for around 30 seconds.
Chest Stretch: hold your arms down at your sides about 30 cm out from your body. Push your arms back until you feel a light tension across your chest.
Twist: cross your arms across your chest. Turn around to your right as far as is comfortable and hold. Once done, repeat to the left.
Hamstring: stretch your leg out in front of you with your heel on the floor. Make your leg as straight as possible. Bend forward as far as you feel comfortable until you feel a stretch down the back of your leg. Once held for 30 seconds, change sides.
Calf: in the same position as above, but this time sat up straight. Pull your toes back towards you. You should feel the stretch at the back of your lower leg.
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