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6 Practical Fitness Tips for Older Adults

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Exercise to slow down aging

Hang On a Sec, or a Dec…ade!

The aging population is big and getting bigger as we baby boomers continue our march, hop, skip, and jump into the next decade. Do you plan to  continue working out while anticipating and minimizing stresses on your “not getting any younger” body?

Based on our group fitness teaching experience plus recent educational events we attended focused on serving the needs of active older adults, we suggest the following:

Revamp Ab Moves that Depend on Forward Spinal Flexion

1) Minimize ab work that requires forward spinal flexion such as crunches. Decades of hunched posture and rounded shoulders take a toll on the spine. Look for opportunities to strengthen your abs that do not require more forward curvature. So long “old lady” back hump; hello stronger abs and a more comfy neck! Reverse curls, planks, and abs exercises that keep your head on the floor and lower spine protected are great options.

Head over to Abs and Core Exercises Safe for the Lower Back   In fact, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel while watching? (Stay tuned, as we have more videos coming that will save your back and keep you looking strong and sexy!)

Side Planks with Stability Balls

Forward Looking, But No Forward Flexion

Create Instability to Increase Stability

2) Integrate stability ball activities into your exercise program. The ball is a great tool, as you can do both cardio and toning with it. For example, did you know you can lie on your back while doing an exercise to strengthen your obliques?

Take a look at this video for ideas:

Obliques Side-to-Side Abs Exercise with the Stability Ball: Right and Wrong Way to “Trim the Waist.”

Here at the Fun and Fit factory, we love anything that combines lying down with exercise. No, we don’t mean what you just thought!

Consider How Often You Transition from Floor to Feet

3) Organize your workout from standing to sitting to kneeling to lying down or vice versa in order to minimize the times you get up and down from the floor. Having said that, do practice coming from lying to standing as part of your workout. You can even make this an exercise. Try going from standing to sitting to standing without putting a hand on the floor and you’ll see what we mean. Not so easy…

Add Power Back Into Your Day

4) Integrate two-footed take-offs and landings into your activities. The ability to hop or jump, even if low and close minimizes risk of falling. Most people stop jumping and doing any power moves as they age. However, unless joint pain precludes even small jumps, having power becomes more important for injury prevention with age. Click this link to see more on power training and avoiding falls.

Flowers at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Resort

We Said “Boomin’ and With It,” not “Bloomin’ Idiots.”  Darn Hearing Issues!

Ask Yourself Whether Any Senses are Slowing or Going

5) Note any changes in your capabilities and account for them in your workout plan.  For instance, is your vision deteriorating? Could that be affecting your balance given the role sight plays in staying upright and balanced? If so, incorporate more balance training into your exercise program.

Tone Down Turns and Twists

6) For cardio training, maximize movements that take you forwards, backwards, and sideways. However, cut down on quick turns, pivots, and sharp direction changes. Such moves can throw you off balance and tax your knee joints if you cannot anticipate them to react with perfect form.

If you are a fitness pro who wants to work with older adults, this magazine article, What Older Adults Want  by Alexandra will tell you what older adults want from their teacher, as well as this post from FitKnitChick.com  about teaching older adult classes.

Looking to hire professional, edu-taining, motivating speakers or writers ? Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email info@funandfit.org.

Feel young and sprightly when you subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.  Please also follow us on Google+: Alexandra and Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

READERS: What is your exercise or training advice for older adults?

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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22 Responses to 6 Practical Fitness Tips for Older Adults

  1. Kim July 9, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    So, at what point are we considered “older adults”?
    When I was in high school, people my age were really old (43) but now I’m thinking I have at least 20-30 years before I’m semi-old. I have several people over 50 in my boot camp classes and I tend to do a lot of the ground to standing transitions – I try to watch everyone and make sure they are doing OK but maybe I should eliminate some of those up-downs!!
    Kim recently posted..The Power of ONEMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit July 9, 2013 at 8:27 am #

      I think we are considered older adults when we find our world getting smaller. So an 80 year old who can reach the bottom and top shelves, and who drives and walks might be “younger” than a 55 year old who can no longer do those things because of physical limitations. Generally speaking, though, I guess after 65. And you might want to eliminate a few of those up-downs if it means you have people leaving the class. Instead, work on the skills that will help make those up-downs easier.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..VitaFusion: Gummy Vitamins for Boomers (and other Adults)My Profile

  2. Tamara July 9, 2013 at 8:13 am #

    Spot on with great advice and tips, as usual! Thanks for sharing!

    I find the biggest challenge in getting my older clients to incorporate power in their workouts is psychological. The fear of falling or other injury often prevents them from trying (but I have many sneaky techniques to move them forward…)
    Tamara recently posted..Twice a day workouts | potential consequences of exercising too muchMy Profile

  3. Jody - Fit at 55 July 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    GREAT POST!!! As fit as I am for 55, ;) , I know how I feel now vs. 5 or 10 years ago.. there is a difference long with my poor feet now that have no fat pads in the balls of my feet – thank god for my Hoka shoes! :) I have to really minimize plyo due to the feet issues BUT I try to do all I can KEEPING IN MIND the bod & what I feel now vs. back then. Really great info – THX!!!!!
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted..Gratitude Monday & the Holiday WeekendMy Profile

    • KymberlyFunFit July 9, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

      Why thank you Golden One! The advice about power is simply to do at least a few two-footed take-offs and landings per week so as not to lose the ability and confidence to jump. I am with you that my joints (feet and knees) are not eager to do any heavy switch lunges, box jump ups, or sustained plyo. Ixnay on that!
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..FitBloggin: Boomer Health Through Social MediaMy Profile

  4. Lisa @ RunWiki July 9, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    Great info! I am forwarding it on to all of the older folks in my life.. oh yeah, that’s me! ha
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Cherry Chocolate Cereal MixMy Profile

    • KymberlyFunFit July 9, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

      See that word “run” in your name. That puts you into the younger older adults category. Unless you want to revert to the older non-adult category. I hear that’s also fun!
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..Running in Place: Do’s and Don’tsMy Profile

  5. Ann Heizer July 9, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

    After 30 years in Group Fitness, watching people get down on the floor and up again, here’s something I came up with…
    http://youtu.be/n6tzfSf1NrA

    • KymberlyFunFit July 10, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

      If you are reading this, then watch also the video Ann links to above. Well worth it for those of you wanting a safe, comfy, active aging way to get from floor to standing. Thanks for sharing Ann!
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..Back Saver Sit and Reach Flexibility TestMy Profile

  6. Sheryl July 10, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    Such important things to think about. I find that as I get older, although I think I can still work out the way I used to, I simply can’t. So, it’s really important to modify things, says this midlife active woman with the swollen knee who should have known better!
    Sheryl recently posted..Dealing with Hot Flashes in the HeatMy Profile

    • KymberlyFunFit July 10, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

      I sooooo hear you about wanting to work out the way I did when younger. Of course I’d also like to eat how I did when younger as well. Hope your knee is swell, but no longer swollen!
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..Try CranioSacral Therapy to Relieve PainMy Profile

  7. Caryn/The Mid Life Guru July 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    Fabulous tips!! I’m only 53 and have been enjoying actively working out regularly for over 23 years. I thought I could keep rotating to the same activities as I did when I was younger but your post shows me why I was having issues. I am going to share this with my exercise pals, my 79 year old mother and I even pinned it to my Pinterest board so I won’t forget. Thanks!!!

  8. Haralee July 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    I love that side bridge with ball picture. I almost feel my core strengthening looking at it. I think that counts!

    • KymberlyFunFit July 10, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

      Of course that counts. Unfortunately it counts the same way that staring at ice cream adds calories to your daily intake. Virtual workouts and virtual snacks. I think we’re onto something! Meantime, I admit I love that side bridge though not as much as I adore the friend who is in the pic with me!
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..FitBloggin: Boomer Health Through Social MediaMy Profile

  9. Kathy C. July 11, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    Those are incredible fitness tips! I’ve been trying out different ways to change up my exercises and I think your suggestions are amazing. I will make sure to try them out some time. I am really intrigued with using balls when working out. Using them looks pretty cute and fun! I guess I’ll be looking at some workout DVDs later that teach how balls can be used during workout sessions.
    Kathy C. recently posted..Best Acai Berry Product for Better HealthMy Profile

  10. Calla Gold July 11, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    Aging is a fact of life, and if we’re lucky enough to face it, we need to modify things a bit to match our aging bodies. Thanks for sharing some great ideas about how to made those adjustments.

  11. Donna Hull July 12, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Great tip about the crunches. I didn’t realize doing them would add to old lady’s hump. Going to watch your video for ab exercises that my back will like right now.
    Donna Hull recently posted..Hiking Avalanche Lake Trail in Glacier National ParkMy Profile

  12. Lynn K. Jones July 14, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    It’s a constant struggle against father time, but with your great workout tips you give us more of a fighting chance.

  13. Linda Menesez July 16, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    Thank you for giving us tips on ways to maintain our strength and mobility as we age. I know I sit way too much. I sit with my clients, sit while writing out notes, sit while doing social media things, and sit while I’m writing my blog posts — not to mention sitting to read and watching t.v.. I need to figure out more ways to move!

    Thank you,

    Linda
    Linda Menesez recently posted..Abuse Isn’t Always Physical!My Profile

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