As we age we usually have less vigour for fitness, and often it becomes far too easy to slow down and forget about our fitness all together.
But really, must our ageing mean a complete stop to physical activity? Certainly not.
You might not be keen to run a marathon, but incorporating some resistance or weight bearing exercise into your day can really help to maintain your health and fitness into your older years so you continue living a healthy and long life. And doing it isn’t hard.
Along with the mental health benefits of exercise, weight training keeps our bodies strong and helps reduce the signs and symptoms of many ailments such as osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis and obesity.
It is important to note that different age brackets will require different training guidelines, so below are some broad considerations for each of the major age brackets above 50.
Too many of us in our 50s live sedentary lives, and for too many consecutive years! There should be no reason why our age group can’t still workout with high intensity and frequency. If we do decide to put an end to a sedentary lifestyle, recovery will be slower due to the natural slowing down of hormone production, decrease in bone density and lower energy levels.
However, most people in their 50s should be capable of building up to a 4-5 day training week so long as the programming is structured correctly. As muscle mass is beginning to deteriorate, a split routine focusing on hypertrophy or muscle building is likely to be safe and beneficial.
At this stage of life, recovery is much slower and a significant reduction in bone density and muscle mass will require you to work at a lighter intensity. Weight training is still recommended, but body weight training and fixed resistance machines are preferable.
Training three days per week in a circuit fashion focusing on one body part per movement is a great way to train in your sixties.
Ages 70-79 and 80+
Once you reach the age of 70 and above the main focus of exercise is keeping fit and active so as to lead a healthy and prolonged life. People in their 70s can achieve this with a similar routine to those in their sixties, just at a lower intensity.
When you hit your 80s, weight training should be fairly minimal and exercise should be achieved through cardio activities such as walking and tai chi.
Setting up a home gym for an older adult can be a challenging task, taking into account living arrangements and space, but here are a few essentials that should be considered that take up minimal space and are easily stored away:
– Dumbbells: light dumbbells are ideal for circuit training in your sixties and seventies.
– Exercise ball: great for balance and stability work.
– Power bands: safe & effective resistance training tool for older adults.
– Medicine balls: easy to use and provide a huge amount of variety in a safe training environment for older adults.
– Exercise mat: it’s important to provide a safe, comfortable surface as our joints start to become less mobile and a good exercise mat will provide this.
– Functional trainer: For those with a little more room functional trainers are fantastic if you are looking for an all-in-one system providing fixed resistance training options for older adults.
Written by Dave Robertson
Dave is a Strength & Conditioning Coach with over a decade of industry experience. He enjoys blogging for Little Bloke Fitness and has also owned a personal training studio in London & a CrossFit gym in Melbourne. He is completing postgraduate studies in Sports Coaching, is a former semi-professional rugby union player and has coached two national record holders in Powerlifting & one state champion in Olympic Weightlifting.