When I meet with different folks and explain to them how I’m a little different than most of the other personal trainers around, there is never a shortage of excuses about why they wish they could hire me but can’t right now.
One excuse I get on occasion comes from some people in town is that they are too old for exercise.
I absolutely hate this excuse because my older clients have seen some of the most dramatic health improvements of any of the clients I have. And new research shows that regular exercise by seniors is vitally important.
Research published in Nursing Older People showed that in a study where residents in a senior home were encouraged to exercise regularly by the nurses, gains in strength and power were seen rather quickly. The study also reports that the participants maintained their new exercise programs for many months after the conclusion of the study, and that much of the continuation seen in the study was due to an increased awareness of the benefits of exercise for seniors that the nurses shared with the participants.
What Are Some Benefits
There are many benefits of regular exercise for members of any demographic. For older folks, some of the biggest benefits include:
Improved Balance–One of the biggest fears of my older clients is that they will lose their balance and fall at some point. Regular exercise, and the incorporation of some balance activities, is a great way to improve stability and decrease the risk of injury from falling.
Improved Bone Density–Osteoporosis is a real worry of many older folks, especially women. By performing resistance exercises and walking regularly, seniors are able to continue strengthening their bones and limiting the likelihood of osteoporosis.
Improved Posture–I have a client that makes jokes about some of the old folks that live in his neighborhood, and how they walk all hunched over all the time. Strength training and regular physical activity can help you to improve your posture, and that improved posture can take a lot of stress off of your body as you age.
As people age, obviously the exercises they should do change as well. But regular physical activity is still important for maintaining your health and enabling older folks to live life to the fullest in their later years.
Just Do Something Physical Every Day
As my 82 year old neighbor says after he knocks out 8-10 miles of running a couple of times a week, “I might be old, but damnit, I’m healthier than a lot of people 20 years younger than I am! And I’m going to keep running til I can’t anymore, because there is no better way of feeling young that I’ve found.”
The man’s a machine. But you don’t have to run 20 miles a week to see the health benefits of regular exercise when you’re in your 70s or 80s, just get outside and get moving.
You might be surprised at how quickly you see the difference.