Senior-itis

Posted by on June 5, 2012 in Exercises | 0 comments

Do you have a person in your life who is becoming unsteady or frail?

This article talks about that population, their issues, and the training that I do with them to improve their status. 

A funny thing… when I talk about people getting “older”, I usually mean “older than me”! That’s the case in this article. Right now I am 63 years old, and honestly… I am a little fearful of what the future holds. A lot of us aging folks feel that way.

The “aging process” slowly robs us

The “aging process”, slowly robs us of physical and mental abilities. Fortunately, we know that by continuing to stay active, our rate of decline is reduced, and that we can actually build strength and ability. A number of “olders” are working with me in the gym to do just that.

Not just sitting on their ass… they are kicking ass!

These “olders”, in their 70s and 80s, are taking action to keep themselves fit. Most of them  train for just 30 minutes each session. Enough time to get a good workout, but still have the energy to be productive for the rest of the day.

…fear of falling is large in their minds…

Each of my clients has his and her unique exercise needs, but common for most is the need for strength building, and balance maintenance. Both of these elements contribute to an  improved ability to move about surly and confidently. And let me tell you, fear of falling is large in the minds of some of these people.

From my experience with my mom, I know that; all it takes is a fall… to destroy self confidence, to damage self esteem, to cause an injury, and to prompt family members to question the ability of the loved one to live on their own.

My goal in working with “olders” is to help them to live the life they desire. And that usually means staying in their own home, and being an accepted part of an active community. Please help me to help them by sending them to me as soon as you perceive the need.

Here is the usual Fitness Motivation “olders” training protocol:

Strength

A typical workout for most includes strengthening all major skeletal muscles, using strength machines and some free weights. Multi-joint movements are preferred. Bodypart sequence is: legs, chest, back, shoulders, and core. Two or three sets of 10 to 12 reps are usually appropriate. Stretching finishes the workout.

Balance

Balance training includes a number of exercises, some of which I created** for this group.

Exercises include:

    • Walk and Bounce (Walking while bouncing a medicine ball).
    • **One Foot Stand (Timed standing on one foot with no hand-hold).
    • **Jacks (A sideways walking that looks like a jumping-jack).
    • **Get-Ups (Standing up from a seated position on the floor. Done with or without hand-hold).
    • **Gym Bowling (Rolling a med ball across gym floor toward imaginary pins)

Attached below are videos of some of these exercises.

Caution!

Any time you attempt to guide another individual through an exercise, you assume the responsibility for the safety of that trainee. Give him / her your  complete attention and use every precaution available. 

“Jacks”

Doing this unusual movement places a demand on the neurological system (NS).  Repeating the movement again and again causes the NS to create a movement pattern that it can repeat on demand. In other words, the brain has been taught to do the movement automatically. 

“Get-Ups”   

Even for fit people, rising up from the floor to full standing position takes strength, flexibility, and coordination, three things that are critical for fall prevention. In addition, should a fall occur, having practiced Get-Ups, the trainee will have the confidence and skill needed to rise up without assistance. 

There are two ways to do “get-ups”.

First: Get-ups using an external hand-hold.

In the event of a fall at home, a hand hold might be a chair, an end table, or the rim of a bathtub. In the video, we use a piece of gym equipment as a hand hold.

Second: Get-ups using the knee as a hand-hold.

Being able to use the bent knee as a hand hold increases the ability to rise up should a fall occur in an open area such as a parking lot.  

 Thank you for reading.

                  Tom

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