In recent years there are far more active seniors becoming competitive athletes, particularly in endurance sports. For example, in the 1980s only 44 of Australian National Sporting Organisations had a masters competition… now over 70 Australian National Sporting Organisations have a masters component and 30 of these have their own international federations.
This observation is probably a reflection of our nation’s attitude to exercise and quality of life: people in their senior years are recognising the importance of exercise in remaining fit and healthy as they approach retirement. And hopefully, if you’re a senior reading this, you too are inspired to commit to a training program.
Many of the benefits of an exercise program for seniors are similar to any age bracket:
- Increased cardiac oxygen utilisation
- Increased oxygen and nutrient delivery through increased capillary networks
- Decreased obesity
- Decreased blood pressure
- Improved blood sugar control
In seniors loss of strength typically occurs but this can be reduced with the use of strength training. There are also some specific benefits for seniors when they take part in strength training:
- May help maintain bone mass
- Improves joint mobility and muscle strength (particularly in osteoarthritics)
- Reduced risk of falling
A word of caution though – it’s important for seniors to provide a complete medical history screening and examination by a doctor prior to starting a strength program… and start slow with increase in volume of training before increasing the weight of lifts.
If there is a recent history of myocardial infarction, angina, systolic blood pressure above 200 mmHg or signs of congestive cardiac failure, it’s important that the individual is monitored in a clinical environment.
Here at Warwick Workout over 20% of our members are 55 and over. And so to accommodate this group we have introduced our new ‘Seniors Strength’ program. Watch for details of this program on our Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Dr Laurence Houghton (PhD Sports Science)