Essentials of Fitness for the 60 and Older Population

unnamed 1

Fitness is essential at all ages. As our bodies age, it is not a time to slow down or relive the glory days, it’s time to get real about movement and practical fitness.

Based on the needs of the aging body, certain changes may need to be made, but strength and conditioning should continue to be a constant in our lives.

How many people do you know at 60, 70, 80, struggle to perform normal daily tasks? From sitting, standing, walking, and even picking things up from the floor?  Your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, spouses. This is not a unique problem, but it is easier to fix than most people understand or realize.

Keeping with the five basic human movements, let’s see how they apply to the over 60 population.

Squat – How do expect to get off of the toilet as you age? Seriously? It’s a fair question. Are you struggling right now to get up? Do you plan on installing hand rails near your toilet? No. Watch older people stand from a seated position, they use their hands to push off of their legs to rise up, which is a clear indication that they’ve forgotten how to use their legs…what do you think is happening to their leg muscles? Atrophy. You must train the squat so that the leg muscles do not atrophy. We must start with the basic body weight squat, once that becomes strong, we add weighted squats to further strength building through the hips and legs.

Hinge – How do you pick things up from the floor? Get someone else to do it or throw your back out lifting improperly? One of those two things happens.  You must be able to pick things up, therefore we must learn to hinge properly, with that comes learning proper shoulder retraction. This is very difficult for the over 60 population due to a lifetime of poor posture. It can be corrected and it is where we actually start the deadlifting process.

Lunge – Unilateral leg training is vial….thats how we walk, and navigate up and down steps and stairs. Unilateral leg training is where we combat and overcome balance issues. Imbalance causes falls…falls cause broken bones. Our lunge process starts with short box step ups and learning how to shift weight and control balance.

Push – Quite frankly, do you want to be the one pushed in a wheel chair or do you want to be the one doing the pushing? Pushing the grocery cart, putting your dishes in the cabinet overhead are all movements that need to be trained. Since upper body movement is led by the shoulder, the most mobile ball-and-socket joint in the body, there’s a need to break down both the push and pull movement patterns into vertical and horizontal planes of motion. We start with elevated push ups, single arm dumbbell presses and move into bench press.

Pull – You pull all day long and not realize it. Pulling your clothes on, pulling the clothes out of the washer/dryer, etc. Again, we use the shoulders so they can stay mobile, we train the pull movement by ring rows, rowing, inverted rows, dumbbell rows, sled pulls, etc.

Loaded Carry – Do you want to pick up your one year old grandchild when she wants to be held or do you need to sit first so she can crawl into your lap because you’re not strong enough to hold her?  Again, we get to chose. We have to carry weight in the front rack, in each hand, in both hands so we can carry our groceries and our grand babies.

I’m not suggesting this is an easy start. I understand that with the aging body comes physical ailments and metabolic conditions. But let me ask you this, is doing nothing to improve your life going to make your golden years easier to navigate? Simply put, no. Yes, there’s a friction point to starting a training program (especially after you’ve been sedentary for 20 years). You’re going to be uncomfortable and sore but your body will adapt and then your body will crave movement. Before you know it, the difficult daily tasks suddenly aren’t so difficult anymore and when your one year old grand baby holds her arms out, you smile and confidently pick up her up and hold her close. That confidence makes the soreness worth it!

Ready to get started? Click here for more info on our Legends program.

unnamed 2