Recently at a family gathering I was struck by an incident with one of my senior family members. One of our relatives, made me stop and think about one of the most pressing issues for seniors today, pushing me to write this post. This spitfire of a lady at age 86 lives on her own, takes care of herself, drives and is still 100% independent. She started a career as a housekeeper at the age of 16 (yes 16!) and continued to work this physically demanding job until she was well into her 60’s.
As we were serving dinner a couple weeks ago a shocking thing happened. As the dinner plates were being distributed, this strong independent woman spoke up and said her plate was too heavy. It was too much weight for her to carry and she requested another lighter plate.
WOW. I was completely shocked.
It made me wonder how many other seniors, who strive to be independent, would find themselves in the same boat. Something as simple as carrying a dinner plate had made me realize the extreme situation that presents itself to our senior population.
Fitness for seniors is brutal. They are misled into believing that walking, aquafit and 5lbs weight training programs are all they are capable of. I don’t blame seniors for not wanting to train – the thought of doing any of the above is simply mind numbing.
On top of losing strength, mobility and independence, osteoporosis for this generation is occuring at a staggering rate.
Here are the facts:
According to the research, living a sedentary life-style, specifically standing less then four hours a day, is the primary cause for weak bones. “Bones stay healthy only when they have vertical vectors of force placed on them regularly,” says Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of The Wisdom of Menopause.
Sadly, according to a report by the Surgeon General, by the year 2020, 50% of all Americans age 50 and older will have osteoporosis. This is an incredibly alarming statistic.
Here is the solution:
The key to training seniors (and really anyone for that matter…) is to empower them. How can we justify training seniors without load bearing activity when life requires us to carry groceries, vacuum cleaners, laundry baskets, grandkids and yes, dinner plates! We train a large number of clients who are in the 50+ generation and yes we train a lot of grandmas! They strength train, they push prowlers, they use our battle ropes, they carry kettlebells, they bear crawl across our turf and it allows them to live life to the fullest.
Here is my advice:
Trainers – don’t be afraid to challenge your senior clients. Do so in a progressive manner with solid technical coaching and you will see incredible results – we have at our studio!
Sons/Daughters/Nieces/Nephews – if you want your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to live a fulfilling life, have an active role with their grandkids and experience all that retirement has to offer, encourage them to train with a coach!
Seniors – Find an experienced coach that can help you train to move better and feel better and who knows how to properly progress your movement and your fitness. Find a training studio that makes you feel comfortable and it can be an extremely enjoyable part of your daily routine.