Your 50+ aged clients have special needs when it comes to working out. Not only are they losing muscle mass at an average rate of 3-5 percent every year after age 25, but their bones—particularly for Caucasian females—are becoming more porous. You may have noticed some clients taking multiple medications pre-workout or disclosing multiple medical diagnoses on release forms that include illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. Balance and agility are starting to become major issues for your senior clients, and those skills are being put to the test by one demographic in general–grandkids. Today, many seniors act as primary daytime caregivers for their grandchildren, so the need to remain flexible and agile is more important than ever.
Involve Grandkids in Senior Fitness Programs
“Something that has become increasingly popular is allowing grandkids to participate in activities. So many seniors are caring for grandchildren, it’s really helpful for them to be able to bring them,” said Marcy Yanus, Associate Vice President of the YMCA in Grove City, Ohio, part of the Central Ohio YMCA, who added that two-parent working households and the rise of child care costs have contributed to the “growing trend” of grandparents taking on the caregiver role.
In addition to creating a fitness atmosphere where seniors can feel comfortable bringing in their grandkids, try providing group programming that incorporates grandchildren.
Other Workout Tips for Your 50+ Clients
- Make it fun. Your 50+ clients have been on the workout train for a long time. Whether you put on music from their favorite decade or bring back games from their childhood, mixing up the routine to make it special to them will be important for your attendance rates.
- Make it social. As your mature clients age, their social networks start to diminish. Offer discounts for them to bring a buddy to their one-on-one training session or provide group exercise classes for senior-specific age groups. Think Pickleball, Tai Chi or Zumba.
- Incorporate weight training. Just because your mature client is losing lean muscle mass doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Studies show weight and/or resistance training at least twice a week between 8-10 set exercises, at 10-15 reps each, will preserve and even build lean muscle mass in those aged 50 and older.
- Focus on balance. As your mature client ages, a loss of balance becomes a key concern. Falls for older adults can often lead to serious injury or death. You can help 50+ aged clients by utilizing the BOSU Balance Trainer for balance-specific leg movements and push-ups, or have your client do one-leg exercises that include walking lunges or single leg squats. Building a solid core will also assist in better balance. Older adults who have difficulties with BOSU ball exercises can try backwards walking, heel walking, toe walking and Tai Chi as alternatives for building balance.
- Flexibility and stretching are key. At least twice a week for 10 minutes at a time, your older client should be performing static stretching and flexibility exercises. Instruct them to put their feet against a wall and attempt to touch their toes. This stretch can help with tight hamstrings and lower back pain relief while shoulder rolls can release tension in both the shoulders and back.
- Check for pre-existing medical conditions and medication side effects. Your older client should be cleared for exercise by a physician and you should take note of any pre-existing medical conditions or medications that will affect your clients: balance (dizziness; light headedness), heart (elevated or decreased heart rate); or blood pressure (drops or elevation).
- Incorporate cardio training. Aerobic capacity can be increased at any age; therefore, your mature client should have a cardio training component to his or her workout. Bicycling, swimming, elliptical trainers, and exercise classes like Zumba or Tai Chi all provide low-impact options that improve aerobic capacity. Moderate-intensity workouts five days a week for 30 minutes at a time, or vigorous-intensity workouts three times a week for 20 minutes at a time should be sufficient.
- Try yoga. If you don’t currently offer yoga classes, try adding yoga moves within a workout routine. Seniors deal with stress too: changing financial concerns, retirement, grandchildren, aging concerns—your senior client has a lot to manage every day! Any exercise you can provide that lessens the load will be appreciated and offer an opportunity to unwind with total focus on essential health and wellness.
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