Our bodies change as we get older and exercise becomes even more important. It is also important to have an instructor that understands these changes and offers exercises compatible with the over 50’s body. Ask any of the following questions that pertain to your body to judge if your potential instructor teaches for the over 50’s body:
What will you focus on to help me?
Two important areas are muscle strength and balance. As we age we lose muscle strength naturally and it is important to maintain strength to remain independent. Quadriceps (front of the thighs) and core (back and abdomen) are important areas to keep strong. The quads help us get up out of chairs, beds and the toilet. Quads are critical to maintaining independence. Keeping the back and abs strong allows room for the organs to work and to breathe correctly to maintain energy. It also may help with back pain depending on the cause of the pain.
The ability to balance decreases with age but you can improve it by regularly practicing balance movements. Balance is important to decrease the risk of falls and possible injuries. Does your instructor include balance movements in their instruction?
What modifications do you suggest to help me exercise with my particular health issue?
Almost everyone will have some health issues as they age. Common ones are:
- high blood pressure,
- pre-diabetic or diabetic,
- low bone density,
- joint replacements, and
- macular degeneration.
The instructor should know movements that are therapeutic for these conditions and those not recommended. For example, people with high blood pressure may become sick and nauseated when their head is below their heart.
How would you handle my hearing loss (or decrease in eyesight or?) in our session?
About two-thirds of adults over 65 have hearing loss and many have diminished sight due to cataracts and/or macular degeneration. With hearing loss, the student needs to see the instructor's face as many with hearing loss read lips. Music or other noise in the background makes it harder to hear. Standing close to the instructor is beneficial for either hearing loss or decreased eyesight.
How will you handle my inability to get up and down easily from the floor or the weight bench?
Stiff joints and diminished balance can make it difficult to get up and down from low surfaces. Can your instructor modifyso that you gain the benefit but don’t struggle with getting up and down. Sitting on a chair instead of the floor or increasing the height of the bench may help.
What will you do to help my stiff joints?
Joints stiffen with age, especially hip joints. The stiffness interferes with normal activities, may cause pain, and affects balance. Slow warm ups taking the joint through the range of motion should be the first step. Next increase the intensity of the movements to further open the joint.
If you have any of these issues, ask your instructor these questions so you know that the exercise will be beneficial.