Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wondering Wednesday - Exercises for the Eldery

I know, I know...Wondering Wednesday is late again. However, between training clients and teaching some great new classes we are offering at the studio, time escaped me. So here is the Wondering Wednesday post (albeit 7 hours into Thursday.)

How many times have we heard people refer to the later years in life as 'the golden years'? Well, my mom (and many of her friends) are convinced they only get the years while the doctors get the gold.

I am always telling her that while visits to the doctor will most likely increase, there is a lot she can be doing in the realm of prevention. Simple exercises are more beneficial than not; however, many believe that after a certain age exercise results are lost to an aging body.

I am sure you have seen the commercial with the elderly water skier. You know, the one where they show in the end that she is 86 and you too can water ski if you consume that product. That is an exception. Most men and women will not be water skiing at 86, but rather, they will find they have a few more nagging aches and pains as they age.

A fellow blogger, who recognizes the importance of exercise for her elderly mother asks, "My mom has sciatica.... can you recommend any (easy) exercises? she's 83..."

Like I said before, as people age bones become weaker, bodies more fragile and pains more frequent. Yes, exercise plays a role in minimizing these issues, but doing the correct exercises is crucial to avoiding further injury. Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome are often confused since the sciatic nerveis is directly under the Piriformis muscle. If the Piriformis muscle becomes inflamed (tough glute workout), it often radiates pain like sciatica. Good news - both require the same exercises.

Since Mom is 83, have her warm up - walking around the house, "marching" in place. Then perform some stretches designed to lengthen the glute (butt) and hamstring muscles. She needs to stand more than sit - sitting keeps everything very tight!

While recognizing that aging bodies are more susceptible to injury, it is critical that elderly men and women move. Often they will become sedentary because movement, in all honesty, can be painful. However, the lack of movement makes that initial soreness and fatigue worse. So be sure to have Mom walk. I know we often find ourselves saying things like, "Don't get up Mom, I'll get your tea for you." When in actuality, she needs to get up and move so feel free to offer assistance if it is needed, but remind her that even walking to retrieve something is exercise and it will benefit her greatly.

If you (or any reader) would like a paper copy of some specific exercises that are safe for those in their 'Golden Years,' please email me directly at

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