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The Importance of Strong Hands

Conditions & Diagnosis, Exercise & Fitness, Nutrition | April 19, 2016

hand exercises for seniorsMany of us deal with age-related changes in regards to our bodies as we age. Our bones and muscles can weaken, making performing and completing simple daily tasks challenging. Osteoporosis or arthritis can set in, which can make lifting objects, getting up out of a chair, and even just walking a short distance painful. This is just one of the reasons why staying active as you age is so vital to your overall quality of life.

One age-related issue you might not have considered before is the loss of hand strength. After the age of 65, it’s common for hand function in both men and women to begin to decrease, due to degenerative changes in our musculoskeletal, vascular, and nervous systems like the aforementioned osteoporosis, arthritis or conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Our hands are the most active part of our upper bodies and hand grip strength is so important in our daily lives. Without strong hands, it’s difficult to lift a bag of groceries, pinch a key and insert it into a lock, pick up a coffee cup, wash dishes, and so on.

Hand Strengthening Exercises for Seniors

Adding some hand strengthening exercises into your daily stretching routine is a great way to keep your hands and grip strong in your later years. You should focus on hand exercises that will improve three types of grip strength: crushing, pinching, and supporting.

Here are a few easy hand exercises for seniors to start including in your workout on a daily basis:

  • Squeezes: Use a ball that will fit into the palm of your hand, like a tennis ball or stress ball. Wrap your fingers around it and squeeze as tight as you can, holding it for about 3-5 seconds. This will help improve your grip and ability to open jars or hold on to heavier items, like a big purse.
  • Presses: Press your thumb to your fifth finger and hold for 5 seconds or so then move to the fourth fingertip, third, and so on. This will strengthen muscles in your fingers and palm, making it easier to put on jewelry or hold on to small objects like pens.
  • Pick it up: Practice picking up a relatively heavy object and hold it for several seconds to improve your supporting grip. You can use a weight or even a household item like a thick book or gallon of water. Hold the item and walk across the room, varying the sizes and weight of the objects to see more results.
  • Stretch it out: You can use a simple rubber band to strengthen finger extensors; simply wrap the rubber band around your fingers and thumbs, then push out against the band’s resistance. Do three sets of these hand strengthening exercises with 10 to 15 repetitions.
  • Wrist rolls: Strengthen your wrist flexors to improve range of motion and increase your hand, wrist and finger strength. This exercise can be done standing or sitting; simply hold a light weight with you elbow bent and your palm facing up, curling your wrist upward while keeping your elbow and forearm steady. Do 3 sets of 10 for maximum results.

As always, before starting any new workout regimen you should consult your doctor. Hand exercises for seniors are a great element to add to your daily workout routine.

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