3 training modifications for older adults

The human body was designed to evolve and change. As our muscles, joints and bones mature, so should our training techniques. If you are an older adult, it’s important to make specific tweaks to your workout routine to help maintain muscle mass, bolster bone density, and prevent illness and disease.

Here are the top three ways you can modify your workout:

Work on your warm-up. Regardless of your age, a proper warm-up is necessary for easing into exercise.

Dynamic stretching (marching in place, arm circles, trunk twists) is a gentle way to promote circulation to the muscles and loosen tight joints. Before exercise, practice the above-mentioned movements for 3 to 5 minutes, or hop on the elliptical or treadmill for five minutes at a low speed and resistance.

Boost your balance. Balance is a vital factor for maintaining overall health and independence. Often, we move quickly throughout our day and simple activities such as stepping into a pair of pants or walking up a flight of stairs can easily lead to a fall if you lack proper balance.

Exercises such as Tai Chi, yoga or moves such as single-leg step ups can be practiced from the convenience and comfort of your home. Other balance-boosting moves include bird dogs and chair squats.

Chair squats: 25 repetitions
  • Begin by finding a sturdy chair or bench.
  • Sit tall, with your core muscles engaged and your shoulders back. Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle with your feet planted firmly on the floor.
  • Push through your heels to a standing position. Squeeze your glute muscles for two counts then slowly return to the seated position. Don’t rely on your hands for momentum.

Bird dogs: 10 repetitions
  • Start on your hands and knees. For support, perform this exercise on a carpeted floor or place a towel beneath your knees.
  • Position your shoulders over your wrists and your hips above your knees.
  • Engage your abdominal muscles and slowly extend your right arm and left leg fully until they are parallel with the floor. Your arm and leg should form a straight line from your fingers through your toes.
  • Hold for five counts, then repeat on the opposite side. That’s one repetition.

Step Ups: 15 repetitions on each leg
  • Standing close to a bench, plant your right foot on the bench.
  • Push through your right heel as you bring your left leg up to meet the right.
  • Then lower your body back down to the starting position. That’s one repetition. Do not remove your right foot from the bench between repetitions.

Keep up with cardio. When it comes to a healthy heart, strong bones, and jolly joints, cardio is king. The goal is to elevate your heart rate for at least 30 minutes every day. Try to incorporate aerobic exercises into your everyday routine. Whether that means substituting a short car ride with a long walk, jog or bike ride, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator at the office, keeping up with your cardio is a must. Doing so can improve heart health, keep blood pressure regulated, and help whittle away excess fat around the waistline. The significance of a large midsection goes far beyond the ascetics. Inflammation, which is a contributing factor for many diseases, is linked to a bloated belly.

Just because you’re getting older, doesn’t mean you have to feel your age.

Ashley B. Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.