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3 Sure Fire Ways To Stay Independent & Build Up Your Strength At Home


By: Dr. Arnan Sisson, PT



I had a new patient Friday and with a smile on their face they said, “Dr. Sisson I want to make it to 100 years old can you help me!?”


I laughed and told him that its not about making it to 100. Its really about making it so all the years you do have are enjoyable. By that I mean, can you play with the grandkids, can you avoid scary surgeries, can you live in your house as long as possible, and can you continue the hobbies that keep you sane? I’d say those things are more important than living beyond 100.


One of the secrets I tell patients is that after we use all our fancy equipment in the clinic to build up your strength/balance you still must maintain your strength to continue to enjoy life like you want to. The best part about this though is that its fairly easy to maintain good balance and strength once you have it.


So, this blog post today is going to cover very simple ways to not only maintain your strength & independence, but ways to build it up even further with very little mental and physical effort.


Get Off Chair Without Using Arms

The first strategy revolves around how you use your chairs. One of the biggest problems I see with anyone 65+ is that in time they start to over rely on their arm muscles. This is most often seen with getting out of the recliner, out of the car, or even off the toilet.


Research shows that with aging the larger muscles of the thighs naturally get weaker faster than the arms. So, with this natural aging process plus the preference to use the arms causes patients to develop weakness in the glut and hamstring muscles at a fast rate. This can cause…

  • The body to be stiff and weak getting out of cars after long car rides
  • People to become reliant on big clunky walkers that are hard to move around
  • 3-4x’s more falls around the house and in the community
  • Higher risk for fractures of the hip with falling & higher odds of losing independence
  • Increased burden on family members and friends to help out with household tasks


So, the reader may be asking, “but how can I actually stop this weakness that builds up in the legs. I just feel like I need to use my arms?”


Their may be some chairs in the home we’re you have to use your arms to physically get from point A to point B. But if you test not using the arms for a few, often it’s a nice surprise that the legs will actually lift you.


By attempting to not use your arms each time you get out of a chair you’ll maintain and develop your strength. Eventually chairs that you couldn’t do this on will be a possibility and it snowballs from there.


I recommend giving it 2-3 tries before going to the armed version each time. Also, if you notice none of the chairs in your home will allow you to do this then place some pillows in the chair you use more often to raise it. Get it high enough to where you can get up without arms. From that point on every time, you get out of that chair you’re getting some solid exercise for those muscles, and it will continue to build.


Do Stairs Without Rail

Our next simple strategy to gaining strength is with stair climbing. If your unable to go upstairs without using the rail safely then try to go up the stairs with your hand just ½ inch above the rail. This will allow you to better work the leg muscles when going up a few steps, but you still have that safety net of the rail fairly close if you need it.


Lift Your Cane Off The Ground

The third and final tactic is for folks that use canes. Feel free to continue to use your cane, but when walking around keep the cane ½ inch above the ground. This will work more of the calf, hamstring, quadricep, and back muscles while walking then just using the cane alone. But just like the previous approach you’ll have a safety net of using the cane if your balance becomes too unsteady.


That’s it, feel free to try one or all three of those right away! What usually works when it comes to keeping up strength and independence are simple things that you can consistently do.


Free 20 Min Phone Consultation

If you’re looking for a quick shortcut to build up your strength, balance, and preserve independence then feel free to give us a ring at (804) 493-3256 (accepting calls 24/7) or go here . We can do a free phone consultation where we can discuss your case and see if you’re a good fit for a tailor made treatment program.


During the treatment program you’ll be 100% guided by myself and the team. We’ll use a mix of customized exercise medicine, mobility treatments, and high level balance work to get you back to enjoy a very high quality of life long into your 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.