6 Practical Fitness Tips for Older Adults
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
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!)
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:
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.
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.
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READERS: What is your exercise or training advice for older adults?