There’s a lot of talk about fitness, but many people still don’t understand that it’s meant for everyone. Training for older clients isn’t always at the same pace as it is for those younger. Although I’ve had my share of seniors who could put some young people to shame. In some cases, the ravages of time and inactivity have taken hold and there’s a long road ahead to fitness with some detours. Bad knees, back problems and even thinning bones create an even greater need for a well-thought-out program. It’s doable, but doesn’t happen overnight. It’s extremely important to have a complete assessment, which includes identifying any limitations and the person’s level of fitness, no matter what age he or she is.
Strength training doesn’t mean you have to use weights.
While many of my older adults are quite at home using weights, some who have been inactive most of their lives face problems of muscle atrophy, bone loss and even heart issues that can interfere. Strength training is extremely important for seniors. It helps rebuild muscle tissue, boosts development of bone mass, reduces blood pressure, helps shed fat and aids in the prevention or control of serious conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. Resistance bands is one way to begin strength training. Not only are the bands easy to use, they’re easy to carry and store. A personal trainer will create a program that’s right for each individual and changes as the fitness level improves. Strength training, such as training with the kettlebells or weights, can also provide cardio and flexibility training.
Flexibility training should be part of everyone’s workout.
Even if you’re in your twenties and a body builder, if you don’t include flexibility training—range of motion exercises—you’re asking for injury. Exercises that are as simple as stretching is a start. You’d be amazed at how limber people become after just a few weeks of working out. Often back pain reduces, since much of it comes from weaker, tighter muscles. Stretching not only eases back pain, it helps lower the risk of falling, increase circulation and reduces the pain from arthritis. Unlike strength training, flexibility training can be done every day and should be. There are simple exercises everyone, not just seniors, can do at home that will improve their flexibility and quality of life.
If you’re a senior and you don’t take walks, start now!
No matter what age, cardiovascular training is important. It can be as simple as walking for 30 to 50 minutes a day. I love new technology, especially the pedometers that keep people honest. People who get no other exercise, but walk 10,000 steps a day, actually get the same workout as doing 30 minutes of strenuous activity. If you’re recovering from a heart condition, make sure you always consult your health care provider. Most of my clients who have had coronary events first work with a rehab specialist. I then continue to build on that program, slowly easing individuals to do more and more. Doctors normally Always remember, the more you move, the better off you are. However, trying to do too much, too soon is also a mistake. Work within comfortable perimeters, which will expand as you get fitter.
- No matter what the condition, it doesn’t have to be a “normal” part of aging. Weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, aches and pains, osteoporosis and muscle atrophy, as well as other conditions, can be delayed or even improved with regular exercise.
- If you sit as part of your job or even part of your avocation, getting up every 50 minutes and walking a few minutes can improve your overall health. This is good advice regardless of age.
- When you’re walking somewhere, move a little faster to boost your heart rate. You don’t have to do it continuously, walk your normal pace some of the time, then speed it up for a minute or two and back down to normal.