Blogs By: Manasi Joshi
There is this misconception about older people not being able to train with weights. In fact weight lifting can be fountain of youth! Just two sessions per week can lower blood pressure and heart rate, increase insulin sensitivity, and reduces other risks of heart diseases. Regular strength training increases or maintains bone density. Increase in muscular strength will help to support joints too. Peak age of bone density building is 20s. After that, bone density drops of gradually through your 30s and 40s, then more sharply in menopausal women. Drop in bone density is responsible for osteoporosis and brittle bones that break easily. For a 20 year old a fall from stairs is just a few bruises, but for a 60 year old it can be a shattered hip. Women are particularly prone to osteoporosis due to smaller frames and lighter bones. Research has shown weight training can produce substantial increase in bone density, muscle strength and power in older people. So if you are a little older, don’t be shy about using heavier weights. As long as exercises are executed under guidance of a professional trainer and done with good form and slow constant movements, strength training can be extremely beneficial for the health and well being of older people.
Coordination, maintaining balance and agility are also important aspects of senior fitness. Motor coordination is necessary to perform simple and complex tasks such as walking, cleaning and climbing stairs. Opening a jar may seem like an easy task, but when you look at the hand and eye movements involved, it becomes apparent that this task requires complex motor coordination. Coordination exercises involve internal and external processing that trains proprioception, balance and timing. Common coordination exercises include:
- Eye and hand coordination
- Hand and foot coordination
- Eye and foot coordination
- Reaction to Cue (coordinating movement based on a cue in a timely manner)
- A combination of the above
Integrating balance and agility exercises into exercise routines for active aging clients can benefit coordination. These exercises are ideal for senior fitness and improving their motor coordination.
- Balancing with one leg and tossing the ball. Standing on one leg and opposite leg lifted at 90 degrees at hip and knee. Beginners can stand on both legs. Take a tennis ball and toss it into each hand. The eyes should follow the ball.
- Alternate Leg and Hand rises. Lift the right leg to 90 degrees at hip and knee and simultaneously lift left hand overhead. Hold for 3 to 5 secs and bring it to starting position. Alternate the sides.
- Same side Leg and Hand rises. Lift right leg to 90 degrees at hip and knee and simultaneously lift right hand overhead. Hold and bring it to starting position. Repeat other side
- Walk back and forth while bouncing a tennis ball back and forth.
- Stand with feet hip distance apart. Lift arms to shoulder height and extend the wrists with fingers facing the ceiling. There are two ways to execute this squat.
First, find a focal point on the wall or the floor in front of them. Perform a squat as right arm moves to the side of the body (rotating the torso) while focusing on the focal point. Return the torso and arm to the center standing position. Next, perform the same movement on the left side. Alternate moving the right and left arms while squatting. The second way involves performing the same squat, but this time focus gaze on the moving fingers. The head will also rotate in the same direction as the arm.
- The trainer and the client will face each other. The trainer will use their hand to point to the right or left. The client must coordinate and synchronize a side squat in a timely manner based on the direction signaled. Trainers can regress this exercise to a side step.
- The trainer should cue the client with, “right” or “left,” followed by the client performing a step-up leading with the leg that has been cued.
Beginner clients can step up on the top of the bench with both feet. Intermediate clients can drive the opposing leg to a 90-degree angle to improve balance.
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