Exercise Programs for Older Adults. Part 4

Thursday, September 27, 2012 12:02
Posted in category Fitness

The physiological goal of an older adult exercise program should be to improve all the major and minor components of physical fitness. Many programs for older adults are designed simply to improve the cardiovascular system. It is important, however, that strength, flexibility, muscular endurance and body composition are all goals of the program, along with the minor components that include balance, coordination, agility and reaction time.

Attitude. Fitness professionals should avoid talking to or treating older adults like children. They are talented and experienced individuals, and most understand their bodies’ limitations far better than the practitioner does. Keep in mind that, although health status and assessment results provide direction, to a large degree, the decision to modify movements should be based on the client’s personal preferences.(3)

Instructors and trainers should also be optimistic and positive, treat each participant as an individual and be good listeners. As with everyone, older adults appreciate praise, compliments, encouragement and warmth.

Exercise modifications

€ Help participants avoid dizziness by eliminating twisting motions of the head, and keeping their eyes open while moving. Movements can also be performed slower, and should always be demonstrated with control.

€ Movement patterns should be kept simple, and an adequate number of repetitions should be used. Repeating each move 10 to 20 times allows for mastering the move, and for socializing. However, excessive repetition of one exercise can fatigue that particular muscle group. It is up to the practitioner to find the necessary balance.

€ Encourage participants to work at their own pace and to modify exercises according to their unique limitations. It is unnecessary to correct a participant’s technique unless something dangerous is being done.

€ Repeat cues and directions frequently so that they can be heard the second time if they were not heard the first time. Be willing to use nonverbal and verbal cues.

€ Design programs to include more stretching than a traditional program to improve or maintain range of motion and flexibility. Exercises to improve general postural alignment will benefit the older adult as well.

€ Balance training or fall prevention should be an integral part of each workout. Examples of balance exercises include slow, long stride walking, standing on one foot, one-footed jumping jacks, and cross country ski and ski bounces with various reaching techniques.

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