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Wade on the Trail with his dog

ORA Physical Therapy Manager, Max Whiting, DPT, has good news to share with Quad City seniors who have given up on staying fit. “You can stay strong in your senior years” – and Max gives you five realistic exercises you can practice at home or with friends.

“It is never, ever too late to build muscle,” affirms ORA Physical Therapy Manager Max Whiting, DPT. “And like I tell my mom, who didn’t grow up in a gym, you don’t have to be intimidated in a weight room to get and stay strong well into your senior years. You can do it gently, at home, or with friends.

“Keeping a strong musculature can actually reverse muscle, cartilage, and tendon weakness as well as improve flexibility, all with a doable regimen.”

More active seniors than ever before

Max says Quad City seniors are learning to be more active than previous generations.

“The secret is that by building strength, you will also improve balance and flexibility, not to mention the bonus benefits, including more collagen production for your skin, an improved mood, and reduced dementia.

“If I could sell the benefits of exercise in a pill form, people would buy it.”

Max attests that exercise is not about learning complicated weight machines and getting bulky but slowly building a doable program at home. He suggests five types of functional movement:

Squatting Pattern

Get up out of a chair. Squatting and picking things off the floor actually strengthens knees, hips, core, back, and upper body, creating robust tendons and ligaments that improve knees and spinal disks.

3 Sets | 8 – 12 Reps

Hip Hinge for Back and Hip Health

Regain mobility. Most back injuries originate from not doing enough lifting. The stronger your hips and back, the less likely you are to be injured. Focus on knees, hips and low back which will strengthen your para-spinal musculature, improving your ability to stand for longer periods of time.

3 Sets | 8 – 12 Reps

Pushing Exercises

Focus on upper body, chest, shoulders. Max says, “We see people with prolonged shoulder pain and atrophy. These movements will help build stability in the shoulders. Yard work requires rotator cuff stability and endurance. Strength training limits injury risk, so approach housework as athletics.”

3 Sets | 8 – 12 Reps

Pulling Exercises

These work even more shoulder stabilizers. “Pulling is important. Most of our jobs relate to computers and phones. We hunch, we can work into other postures,” says Max. Simple pulling exercises improves upper flexibility and shoulder flexibility and health.

3 Sets | 8 – 12 Reps

Heavy Carry

Improves functionality to carry groceries and keeps soreness and injury at bay. “It’s the best way to build core strength: both abdominal core and lower back. People feel great with robust joints and are confident in their accomplishments after the workout.”

3 Sets | 30 Second Walks

How to get started – one step at a time

While adding intentional, simple exercises into your everyday life, Max also advises that your fitness journey begins with a single step. “Walk for at least 30 minutes every day. Walking Improves your bone density and decreases the chances of heart disease. It will also improve the lower back, hip, knee, and foot range of motion for better flexibility.

“Find a friend, join Silver Sneakers at the Y, and your body will thank you.”

If you continue to have persistent pain or worsen it, make an appointment with ORA for evaluation and a personalized diagnosis and treatment plan with our physicians, pain management specialists, or physical therapists.