5

votes

What type of fitness do you think is ideal for the elderly?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 19, 2012 at 10:35 PM

What type of fitness would be the best to introduce to someone who is over 60 and sedentary?

I believe the joints start going bad around this time and Crossfit may not be appropriate. Heavy weights probably aren't that great either if they are new to fitness.

E57d8e182251b61ccc6ada197c359d7e

(623)

on February 20, 2012
at 05:31 PM

I did state that knee or wall pushups to start.

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on February 20, 2012
at 04:42 PM

I would love to see a progression made specifially for someone with limited mobility to ideally full pushup and pull up.

Ceda025d1f349bc43be115a5f9199fb1

(501)

on February 20, 2012
at 11:47 AM

Good answer - seems that Tai Chi reduces falls in the elderly.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on February 20, 2012
at 08:20 AM

-1, off-topic, not even an attempt at helping out.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on February 20, 2012
at 08:02 AM

Agree with primallykosher. They're not going to be able to do a single one, and that's discouraging. Maybe pushups off a counter or a wall. My mom uses exercise bands to do lateral rows and pulldowns, and she uses a wall to do squats to protect her back.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on February 20, 2012
at 08:00 AM

My mother-in-law does tai chi every day and she swears it has cured her shoulder bursitis and she just feels better for doing it -even just 15 minutes in the morning.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on February 20, 2012
at 07:52 AM

+1 from me, too. Many gyms with pools offer aquagym classes. I've just recently convinced my mom, who had extensive spine surgery a year ago and still suffers from pain in her hip and knee on one side, to join a gym and get in the pool. She was unable to walk much and getting very frustrated as she lost all her fitness.

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on February 20, 2012
at 04:10 AM

I hear pushups, pullups are very hard for people who don't exercise that much.

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on February 20, 2012
at 04:07 AM

I thought elderly was more friendly than geezer or old fart. I am 26 and call 30+ old's geezers too, but I'm obnoxious.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 01:33 AM

Oops. That's Doug McGuff (not the crime dog ;).

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 01:25 AM

I read your answer. And I also read your comment to Firestorm about "lightening up" and your comment about lazy, fat, sick, sad and unfortunate being preferable to "elderly." I stand by my comment.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 01:22 AM

Re elderly, it's all relative apparently ("old is always 20 years older than you are.")

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 20, 2012
at 01:19 AM

Reread my answer, I said I was "amused". The "angst" is coming from several other places. It's pretty obvious from where and why.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 01:17 AM

I think it was your "nerve" that was struck. I'm in my 50s and I'd encourage you to get used to 20- and 30-somethings thinking 60 is elderly!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 20, 2012
at 01:13 AM

@jj: I define "elderly" as older than me. :-))

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 01:12 AM

Over 60 is not elderly to you. We get it. Sorry primallykosher pushed your button (whoever said "Old is 10 years older than you are" probably had it right). I'm in my 50s, not sure why "over 60" and "elderly" aren't causing me any angst.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 20, 2012
at 01:07 AM

This is really not that difficult. 60 years old is not elderly. Fine, you pick the adjective. Boy, have I struck some "nerve". Sorry!

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 12:44 AM

Great idea ... I've been doing water walking to help rehab my back. And your local pool may have classes like mine that accommodate the sedentary older adult.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 12:42 AM

Oh please ... a sedentary 60-yr-old isn't elderly but is lazy, fat, sick, sad, unfortunate?! That's making fun? Ha ha ha ha. Oy.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 12:37 AM

You don't have to use machines to use BBS ... Doug McGruff share a machine-free protocol on Mark Sissons site.* But if my friend/family member were 60 and sedentary, I would NOT start with this. I'd start with just being more active. * http://www.marksdailyapple.com/setting-yourself-up-to-win-a-body-by-science-approach

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 20, 2012
at 12:26 AM

Maybe this is the first sigh of Alzheimers. Luntsman, you may have been more correct than I knew!

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on February 20, 2012
at 12:25 AM

Going gluten free & taking a krill oil supplement can do wonders for the joints, BTW.

Dea5f440698f5488b975ada2f61daa0d

(393)

on February 20, 2012
at 12:15 AM

Beth, I agree with everything you said. I know from personal experience that the hardest part is the "getting started" part.

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on February 20, 2012
at 12:15 AM

What you do a very low weight at say 60-90 seconds a rep? I believe you have to use machines to use BBS safely.

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on February 20, 2012
at 12:13 AM

Who is kosher paleo?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 20, 2012
at 12:04 AM

Brake all the rule! You "Elderly" woman!

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on February 19, 2012
at 11:51 PM

What type of dancing? Dancers always injure themselves well the ones in college did. I went to an art school and they tended to break feet legs arms.

4ccf5d9bba64e54fc95802fe8ae33c47

(900)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:48 PM

Reminds me of the little old lady I saw on "nightly news" the other day who delivers mail within a hospital, pushing mail around on a cart and walking, walking, walking all day long. She's been working that job for 38 years now. She started when she was 67. She is now 105!!! And she does it because she loves it.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:45 PM

Dear Firestorm: I'm a personal trainer. I deal with this situation all the time. I'm actually very NICE!!I was making fun of KosherPaleo's choice of words, not the victim of the Neolithic Holocast.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:40 PM

Dear Firestorm: A sedentary sixty year old is not "elderly" Lazy, check, fat, check ,sick, check, misquided, check, sad, check, unforfunate, check. But elderly????? No way! Peace!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:37 PM

Dear Firestorm: Google:tongue in cheek! Lighten up!!!!

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:34 PM

As someone who is an 'outlier' in terms of fitness in a couple of areas, I'd like to thank you for thinking of asking this question. I think too many people assume that someone starting healthier eating/fitness journey is necessarily already fit enough for "all in" workouts. That's not necessarily the case, and an injury can be very debilitating.

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:32 PM

I think the qualifiers were -both- "over 60" and "sedentary". As such, I think it's fair to ask whether there does need to be an approach that takes into consideration that it does take longer to go from "0" to "turbo" without injury when one is no longer in one's 20s and 30s. *smiles*

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15 Answers

5
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:56 PM

It amazes me every day just how helpless people assume I must be because I have gray hair.

They want to carry anything I pick up and they look at me funny because I walk as fast as I did 40 years ago.

First, I agree with Eric that walking--at the speed/distance that's natural for you--is a great place to start. I'd add that you should park toward the outside of the parking lot and refuse help putting purchases in your vehicle. Hand wash dishes and pans, and active chopping of poultry and tubers is great for your muscles. Doing household chores in as manual a way as possible is also great.

If you are in good enough shape, then you can try more challenging things once all of the above are a snap for you. At my recent physical, the young doctor's eyes opened wide because I could sit up from a horizontal position without help. Excuse me?

The truth is, most people don't expect older people to be strong and healthy. With the frail, they are solicitous and deferential. When you don't show any weakness, they almost seem uncomfortable because you're violating all their expectations. I almost laughed out loud at the store yesterday, in the aisle and at checkout, at people's faces when they saw me lift the 34-lb box of kitty little into and out of the shopping cart. I think I broke a rule! :-))

Bottom line: do as much as you can and try to stretch it to more over time. I think the only real difference once you're over 55 is that you shouldn't work hard every day. A day or two of recovery is more important after challenging physical activity, at least for me since I start to break down rather than getting stronger. With recovery time, though, I still respond very well to activity.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 20, 2012
at 12:04 AM

Brake all the rule! You "Elderly" woman!

5
Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:36 PM

I would recommend swimming as a possibility. It was very helpful for me -- swimming and "pool jogging" helped me build up muscle without a lot of damage during the earliest phases of getting myself fit, and it's still my late-winter/early-spring "go to" form of exercise.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on February 20, 2012
at 07:52 AM

+1 from me, too. Many gyms with pools offer aquagym classes. I've just recently convinced my mom, who had extensive spine surgery a year ago and still suffers from pain in her hip and knee on one side, to join a gym and get in the pool. She was unable to walk much and getting very frustrated as she lost all her fitness.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 12:44 AM

Great idea ... I've been doing water walking to help rehab my back. And your local pool may have classes like mine that accommodate the sedentary older adult.

4
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:27 PM

Wow! I'm sixty two months away from being" over sixty" and I am amused that you will consider me "elderly". I'm in the best shape of my life and my 53 year old wife is as well.We plan on reaching our peak(s) on the beach, in the gym and in the bedroom sometime near seventy and then scratch and claw our way downhill from there!!!! Elderly! There is a guy named Sisson.....

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on February 20, 2012
at 08:20 AM

-1, off-topic, not even an attempt at helping out.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:40 PM

Dear Firestorm: A sedentary sixty year old is not "elderly" Lazy, check, fat, check ,sick, check, misquided, check, sad, check, unforfunate, check. But elderly????? No way! Peace!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:45 PM

Dear Firestorm: I'm a personal trainer. I deal with this situation all the time. I'm actually very NICE!!I was making fun of KosherPaleo's choice of words, not the victim of the Neolithic Holocast.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 12:42 AM

Oh please ... a sedentary 60-yr-old isn't elderly but is lazy, fat, sick, sad, unfortunate?! That's making fun? Ha ha ha ha. Oy.

Ca1150430b1904659742ce2cad621c7d

(12540)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:32 PM

I think the qualifiers were -both- "over 60" and "sedentary". As such, I think it's fair to ask whether there does need to be an approach that takes into consideration that it does take longer to go from "0" to "turbo" without injury when one is no longer in one's 20s and 30s. *smiles*

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on February 20, 2012
at 04:07 AM

I thought elderly was more friendly than geezer or old fart. I am 26 and call 30+ old's geezers too, but I'm obnoxious.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 01:17 AM

I think it was your "nerve" that was struck. I'm in my 50s and I'd encourage you to get used to 20- and 30-somethings thinking 60 is elderly!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 20, 2012
at 01:19 AM

Reread my answer, I said I was "amused". The "angst" is coming from several other places. It's pretty obvious from where and why.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:37 PM

Dear Firestorm: Google:tongue in cheek! Lighten up!!!!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 20, 2012
at 01:07 AM

This is really not that difficult. 60 years old is not elderly. Fine, you pick the adjective. Boy, have I struck some "nerve". Sorry!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 20, 2012
at 12:26 AM

Maybe this is the first sigh of Alzheimers. Luntsman, you may have been more correct than I knew!

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on February 20, 2012
at 12:13 AM

Who is kosher paleo?

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 01:25 AM

I read your answer. And I also read your comment to Firestorm about "lightening up" and your comment about lazy, fat, sick, sad and unfortunate being preferable to "elderly." I stand by my comment.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 01:12 AM

Over 60 is not elderly to you. We get it. Sorry primallykosher pushed your button (whoever said "Old is 10 years older than you are" probably had it right). I'm in my 50s, not sure why "over 60" and "elderly" aren't causing me any angst.

3
De267f213b375efca5da07890e5efc25

(3747)

on February 20, 2012
at 03:51 AM

I'm going to second Tai Chi. I joined a class at the local YMCA and it's pretty cheap. I'm only 31 but the next youngest person is about twice that and the oldest about triple that. One even walks with a cane. Clinical studies have shown it to be effective with joint pains as well as helping to maintain balance. Good stuff.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on February 20, 2012
at 08:00 AM

My mother-in-law does tai chi every day and she swears it has cured her shoulder bursitis and she just feels better for doing it -even just 15 minutes in the morning.

Ceda025d1f349bc43be115a5f9199fb1

(501)

on February 20, 2012
at 11:47 AM

Good answer - seems that Tai Chi reduces falls in the elderly.

3
35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on February 20, 2012
at 01:03 AM

Walking. My mother is 67 and went from walking a mile a day to walking her first 1/2 marathon last month! Also, I'm amused that you think over 60 is "elderly", I tend to think of the elderly as anyone over 80.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 20, 2012
at 01:13 AM

@jj: I define "elderly" as older than me. :-))

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 01:22 AM

Re elderly, it's all relative apparently ("old is always 20 years older than you are.")

1
287f839a2cda0b29ba9c2d6b993840ba

on February 20, 2012
at 09:16 AM

A good step would be making daily life more active, raising the baseline. E.g. walking after dinner/using your feet over other forms of transport, regular hobbies like swimming/dancing/whatever sport takes their fancy (I don't want to stereotype but there are plenty of low impact things). A little on a regular basis goes a long way.

A more demanding step could be graduated bodyweight exercises. There are a wealth of things beyond the press-ups against a wall. You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren is a great cheap book. It has a hardcore program for those who want that, but also a lot of simple exercises and variations to make them easier (or harder) by changing the leverage involved, so it can be personalised. It's the intensity work that's let me stay out of gyms (which are anathema to me), but leg-raises, bear walks and other colourfully named things would suit most people.

1
F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on February 20, 2012
at 12:52 AM

I'll throw in a vote for yoga as well. Great for balance, mental wellbeing, and sometimes strength, depending on the class.

1
F4d04667059bc682540fdfd8b40f13a7

on February 19, 2012
at 11:33 PM

For anyone new to fitness (of whatever age) I think the most important thing is just to move lots - and make it a daily habit. Walking is the best way to start this. PErhaps joining walking groups too, as I think a social/ group aspect to fitness really helps it to become part of a daily routine.

Once used to moving, I think it's good to start something that is fun first and exercise second - for example, yoga or dancing. This way you don't think of it as exercise, but you're getting over the adjustment into exercise whilst having fun.

Circulation is so important and by moving everyday it will get better and better

4ccf5d9bba64e54fc95802fe8ae33c47

(900)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:48 PM

Reminds me of the little old lady I saw on "nightly news" the other day who delivers mail within a hospital, pushing mail around on a cart and walking, walking, walking all day long. She's been working that job for 38 years now. She started when she was 67. She is now 105!!! And she does it because she loves it.

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on February 19, 2012
at 11:51 PM

What type of dancing? Dancers always injure themselves well the ones in college did. I went to an art school and they tended to break feet legs arms.

1
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 19, 2012
at 11:13 PM

OMG ... Crossfit is absolutely NOT appropriate!! To be fair, it's not that Crossfit is inherently a problem, but I tend to agree with Robb Wolf. It's a total crap shoot whether the local box can really (really) accommodate the outliers like the older adult, the really overweight, or the mobility-challenged.

If possible, a Body By Science or Super Slow approach would be fab (my BBS trainer has a client in her 80s). Otherwise, I'd work them thru Mark Sisson's approach:

  1. Start first with "move frequently at a slow pace." If they are sedentary, just get them moving. A half-hour walk is a good start, and that 30 minutes of moving is well worthwhile.

  2. Next, move on to "lift heavy things." This does not need to be Crossfit WODs, but can be working with resistance bands or other activities that help build or retain muscle mass.

  3. Finally, if they can get thru the first two, move on to "sprint once in a while." There are interesting research studies showing high-intensity interval training is good for lots of folks

Anyways, hope this helps. I'd simply start with getting them walking and going from there. And actually, connecting activity like walking with some kind of social support (a walking group at the mall, or a local Red Hat Ladies group, or maybe even a local Tai Chi group) might work best. Good luck!

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 01:33 AM

Oops. That's Doug McGuff (not the crime dog ;).

Dea5f440698f5488b975ada2f61daa0d

(393)

on February 20, 2012
at 12:15 AM

Beth, I agree with everything you said. I know from personal experience that the hardest part is the "getting started" part.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on February 20, 2012
at 12:37 AM

You don't have to use machines to use BBS ... Doug McGruff share a machine-free protocol on Mark Sissons site.* But if my friend/family member were 60 and sedentary, I would NOT start with this. I'd start with just being more active. * http://www.marksdailyapple.com/setting-yourself-up-to-win-a-body-by-science-approach

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on February 20, 2012
at 12:15 AM

What you do a very low weight at say 60-90 seconds a rep? I believe you have to use machines to use BBS safely.

1
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on February 19, 2012
at 11:11 PM

Walking is a great way to start. Then after awhile see if light weights are a possibility.

0
Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on February 20, 2012
at 12:38 PM

Worth watching these...

Scott Sonnon - Ageless Mobility: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAHGmwhAHVo.

0
Ceda025d1f349bc43be115a5f9199fb1

(501)

on February 20, 2012
at 11:52 AM

Start with walking, until at least an hour a day. Add in BBS-style resistance training. I would use longer TUL's (or higher repetition counts) so the load would be smaller, and force on joints would be less. "Water aerobics" classes can be good as well, along with swimming for the right person. Tai chi or balance exercise to reduce chance of falls.

0
E57d8e182251b61ccc6ada197c359d7e

on February 20, 2012
at 03:52 AM

I would think body weight exercises would be good. You should be able to move your own body. Pushups (knee or wall to start), squats, maybe some planks. Mark Sisson's Primal Blue Print Fitness would probably work well.

Lots of walk Play 1 day of intervals 2 days of body weight.

Do what you can do and keep improving.

PS I am 33. 60 is ancient. LOL!! ;-) Kidding!!

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on February 20, 2012
at 08:02 AM

Agree with primallykosher. They're not going to be able to do a single one, and that's discouraging. Maybe pushups off a counter or a wall. My mom uses exercise bands to do lateral rows and pulldowns, and she uses a wall to do squats to protect her back.

E57d8e182251b61ccc6ada197c359d7e

(623)

on February 20, 2012
at 05:31 PM

I did state that knee or wall pushups to start.

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on February 20, 2012
at 04:10 AM

I hear pushups, pullups are very hard for people who don't exercise that much.

C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on February 20, 2012
at 04:42 PM

I would love to see a progression made specifially for someone with limited mobility to ideally full pushup and pull up.

0
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on February 20, 2012
at 03:10 AM

Strength - resistence training. Pick something up, put it down, repeat. Carry a suitcase down the hall or in the backyard.

0
62442eec80b7d248ccfa08f98f736748

on February 19, 2012
at 11:19 PM

whatever fitness to help children raise their children...coming from an undergraduate human evolutionary biology major. Grandmother hypothesis!

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