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The older you get, the greater your risk of experiencing sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass, strength and function. The loss of muscle mass in the upper body is very common and can interfere with activities of daily living, like carrying groceries or getting something off of a shelf. You can slow down or even prevent this condition by practicing a regular strength-training routine. Even if you have a mobility issue, there are several arm-strengthening exercises you can perform while seated. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that the elderly perform one to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise two to three days per week with at least 48 hours between sessions to allow for muscle recovery.
Seated Arm Curls
Arm curls target the biceps muscles on the front of the upper arms. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides with your palms facing in as you sit in your chair. Pull your belly button in toward your spine and stiffen your back. Exhale as you bend your right arm to lift the weight toward your shoulder. As you lift the weight, rotate your arm so that your palm is facing toward your body. Lower the weight back to the starting position and repeat the movement with your left arm. Continue to alternate arms until you've completed the desired number of repetitions.
Seated Overhead Press
Strengthen the muscles in your shoulders as well as the triceps muscles on the back of the upper arm with the seated overhead press. Sit tall in your chair with your stomach muscles tight. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder-level with your palms facing forward or in and your elbows bent. Exhale as you press the weights directly overhead by extending your arms. Pause at the top then inhale as you slowly lower back to the initial position.
Seated Arm Raise
The seated arm raise strengthens the deltoid muscles that make up the shoulders. Begin seated in your chair with your abdominal muscles tight and your back straight. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms straight at your sides. Exhale and lift your right arm straight out to your side until it reaches shoulder level. Pause then inhale as you slowly lower back down. Exhale as you immediately lift the weight straight out to the front until it reaches shoulder level. Slowly lower the weight back down as you inhale. Repeat the two movements with your left arm. Continue to alternate arms until you have completed the desired number of repetitions.
Seated Arm Flexion and Extension
This seated exercise strengthens the muscles in your forearm that work to move your wrist and fingers. Sit in your chair with a small dumbbell in each hand. Bend your elbows and rest your forearms on your legs so that your palms face upwards and your hands hang past your knees. Allow your wrists to bend so that your hands hang toward the floor then exhale as you contract your forearms to lift the weights upward. Keep your arms resting on your legs as you lift the weights. Inhale and slowly lower the weights back to the starting position. Complete the desired number of repetitions, then rotate your arms so that your palms are facing down. Repeat the exercise to work the muscles on the back of your forearm.