*Last updated January 2023*
Hi, I'm Ollie - A nutritionist and personal trainer who helps older adults either stay strong or get strong! I pride myself on offering evidence based practice and showing you the most effective way to remain stronger and healthier with age.
Best resistance bands for elderly people
There are 3 main TYPES of resistance band you can purchase. I have listed 1 recommendation of each type which can be purchased from Amazon. Simply click the picture to view the product.
- The Loop band
Overview: These resistant band loops are really good value for money and very versatile. They can be used for mainly leg based exercises as well as a few upper body exercises.
They come as a packet of 5 bands each offering a different amount of resistance. The green band is the easiest to stretch and the black band is the hardest to stretch. Of course the harder it is to stretch the more work you muscles have to do.
The differing levels of resistance in each band is crucial for adding progression to your workout routine.
I would definitely recommend getting these bands for your home workouts.
Price: Currently listed at £6.00 (May 4th 2021). Normal price: £16.00
- The flat band
Overview: This longer flat band is slightly different to the loop banded listed above. This band isn't joined at each end which makes it versatile for many upper body exercises.
This product comes as a pack of 3 bands each offering a different amount of resistance. However, it's very easy to make smaller adjustments to the resistance with these bands so 3 bands is plenty enough. Taking the above picture as an example, the lady could simply grip the band further down to increase the resistance.
This type of band is really important for upper body exercises and can also be used for some lower body exercises.
This product along with the loop band would allow for effective full body strength workouts.
Price: Currently listed at £12.99 (May 4th 2021). Normal price £13.99
- The tubed handled band
Overview: THIS product is a little pricier than the previous 2 listed above but is still very affordable. These bands come with handles for both hand gripping and ankles.
This can be really helpful for those with limited grip strength.
In order to actually use the ankle attachment you'll need to have a solid anchor point for one end of the band. This product comes with a door anchor which is really handy.
With this product you can also pair bands together to create even more resistance which is very helpful for progression in your workouts.
If you're willing to invest then I would buy this product over the longer flat bands but I would still ALSO want to buy the smaller loop bands.
Price: Currently listed at £18.69 (May 4th 2021). Normal price £39.99
The 3 products listed above are the main types of resistance band you can buy.
-The loop band
-The longer flat band
-The tubed band with handles
In general I would recommend you purchase the loop bands and then EITHER the long flat band or the tubed band with handles.
The products I've recommended all come from Amazon. Feel free to have a browse and choose a similar product to ones I have listed. There might be some good sales on when you come to purchase them.
You can also buy bands from most sports shops or places like Argos (in the UK).
You'll be fully equipped to do great full body resistance based workouts with these bands.
What kind of exercises can you do with resistance bands?
Resistance bands are incredibly versatile, especially when you know how to use them.
There are no muscle groups that can't be worked using resistance bands.
I'll give you a few examples of resistance band exercises for seniors with pictures included below.
You can also check out THIS article which has video demonstrations of the best seated resistance band exercises for elderly people and seniors.
The loop band
Banded lateral steps
Muscles worked: Glutes (bum), abductors (outer thigh)
Step 1: Stand with feet hip width apart and the band around the ankles/shins. You can also put the band above the knee to make the exercises a little easier.
Step 2: Step one leg to the side and then back to the starting position. As you step sideways the band will stretch placing resistance on the glutes.
Banded kick backs
Muscles worked: Glutes (bum), Hamstrings (back of upper leg)
Step 1: Put the loop band around the top of the knees. (you can also put the band around your ankles if you'd rather). Stand with your feet about hip width apart.
Step 2: Kick one leg backwards moving from the hip. The band will stretch. Don't let your lower back arch.
TIP: Try using a chair/stool/table for balance.
Banded Knee raises
Muscles worked: Quads (front of upper leg), Hip flexor (front of hip)
Step 1: Have the band around the top of the knees with your feet about hip width apart.
Step 2: Raise 1 knee upwards. The knee should move in an arch formation as it travels outwards and upwards simultaneously.
The Flat band
Banded chest fly
Muscles worked: Chest, triceps
(If you can't see the video click HERE to view in youtube)
Muscles worked: resistance bands for elderly (2) Rear deltoid (back of shoulder), rhomboids (upper back muscle), traps (upper back muscle)
Step 1: Grip the band with both hands and have your arms out in front of your body with a soft bend in the elbow...
Step 2: Stretch the band by moving your hands out to the side. You should be moving at the shoulders (not the elbows). Wait until the band touches your chest and then return the starting position. This counts as 1 rep.
Muscles worked: Lats (upper/mid back), biceps (front of upper arm)
Step 1: Step both onto the middle of the band. Hinge your bum backwards and lead your torso forwards. You back should stay nice and straight.
Step 2: Pull your elbows backwards behind your back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
The tube band
Muscles worked: Lateral deltoid (middle of shoulder)
Step 1: Stand 1 foot (or both feet) in the middle of the band. Slowly raise your arms out to to side. Bring your hands up to shoulder height and slowly bring them back down again.
Muscles worked: Bicep (front of upper arm)
Step 1: Stand both feel in the middle of the band. Start with your hands by your side and slowly bend the elbows bringing your hands upwards and curling towards the shoulder.
Muscles worked: Deltoids (shoulders), Triceps (back of upper arm), Lats (upper/mid back)
Step 1: Stand 1 (or both) feet into the band. Start with your hands above your elbows (like the image below). Then simply press your hands above your head and bring them slowly back down to the starting position.
These are just a few exercises that elderly people can do with resistance bands. There are many many more!
Will resistance bands help me grow muscles and strength as an elderly person?
In order to grow muscle mass and strength you need to provide resistance to your muscles to make them work.
With resistance bands, the clue is in the name. They provide that resistance!
However, resistance needs to be structured and measured in order for it to be effective.
It's no good randomly doing a few reps of a bunch of different exercises every now and then.
This is where the Wise Fitness Academy can help. We provide monthly workouts to all our members. Each month all the Wise Fitness Academy members do the same strength based workout programme which consists of 3 session per week.
The workouts are structured and take into account individual levels of strength and mobility.
All members also get a monthly check in call with me (Ollie) the found of the Wise Fitness Academy.
What are some gentle resistance band exercises for elderly people?
All the examples pictures above are suitable for all ages.
You just need to choose a lighter resistance band and do fewer reps and sets if you currently have very limited mobility.
Resistance band exercises need to be done in a very controlled way to manage the stretching of the band so they are gentle in nature.
In fact they couldn't be more perfect for elderly resistance training 🙂
Are resistance bands as good as dumbbells?
Resistance bands are simply a tool. As are dumbbells.
Both pieces of equipment are excellent for providing resistance to muscles which is what's required for increased muscle mass and strength.
I don't think one is necessarily better than the other but each does have their own benefits and drawbacks.
For example, resistance bands are cheap, easy to store and easy to transport whereas dumbbells are more expensive and not so easy to store.
Dumbbells require less creativity to do exercises than resistance bands.
Ideally, get both! But using either piece of equipment is fine.
Are resistance bands a new invention?
No, resistance bands have been around for a long time but they have become more popular in recent years.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced a lot of people to workout from home and so resistance bands surged in popularity as they are such a home workout product.
Also, there is more information on exactly how to use resistance bands effectively now. Without guidance and instructions they can be a little confusing to use at first.
Where can I find some resistance band workouts suitable for elderly people?
It's all well and good knowing some great resistance band exercises but putting them into an effective workout is equally important.
You could join the Wise Fitness Academy monthly workout cycles.
All members do the same monthly home workout programmed by me 🙂 - Don't worry, the workouts are tailored to your current levels of strength and mobility.
I also video call with all my members once a month to check on progress offer up advice and tips.
If you would like some more information on the Wise Fitness Academy pop your name and email in below and I'll be in touch very soon.
At the end of the day - resistance is resistance.
And it's resistance that is required for the muscles to adapt and grow.
Weights (like dumbbells and barbells), resistance bands, medicine balls, kettlebells etc are simply tools that have been designed for humans to use to provide resistance to our muscles in a comfortable way.
I've seen poverty stricken areas in the world tying buckets of water to either end of a stick to improvise some weights.
Don't let marketing and the media trip you up regarding how effective one tool is over another.
Each tool has its own positives and negatives.
Weights are great, but they take up a lot of room and they're expensive.
Resistance bands are great and can be tidied away easily after use.
In an ideal world I'd say - "use both" but either or will work just fine as long as you're following the principles of muscle gain. (which are all taught and explained in the Wise Fitness Academy).
How long do you have?
I mean - literally SO many ways and to a massive extent.
You know really elderly people who are really frail and struggle to walk? Well that happens as a results of loss of muscle mass and strength (primarily).
If we all resistance trained regularly from the age for ~4o onwards we would dramatically reduce our chances of developing chronic diseases and syndromes such as:
Abnormal blood pressure
General muscle atrophy
And many more!!!
OK so it's not going to totally eliminate these issues but it will go a long way to preventing them or at the lease, managing them!
You know when people list their hobbies, going to the gym/exercising often features on the list....well that's a problem.
Because exercise should be a staple in EVERYONES life.
You can but there are lots of other exercise variations that target the same muscle groups and are less advanced. (I'm talking more about deadlifts when I say that)
I programme squat variations all the time in the Wise Fitness Academy workouts.
Deadlifts are a little harder to execute using a resistance band and are not such a good home based exercise. Instead I would use hip thrusters, kickbacks, donkey kicks, hydrants and hamstring walkouts.
(I teach all these exercises within the Academy)