Working with older adult clients can be hugely rewarding, particularly because regular physical activity can play a crucial role in helping them maintain their independence and ability to perform activities of daily living. However, there are special considerations to keep in mind when designing their training programs.
Why Traditional Cardio Plans May Not Work
Many older adults will come to you with illnesses and conditions that can make traditional cardio training challenging and possibly dangerous. Common medical conditions you are likely to see in these clients include high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis and more. Others may experience limited mobility, lack of balance, poor vision and general weakness.
While this population can certainly train to improve cardiorespiratory strength and circulation, common aerobic exercises such as running, elliptical training, circuit training and even walking on a treadmill may need to be avoided unless they have a clear Health and Exercise History form. Even so, it is essential that all older adult clients who participate in any type of exercise program be cleared by their doctor before beginning training.
Exercising in the water is an excellent form of low-impact cardio for all populations, but it is especially effective for older adults. Water offers an ideal form of resistance and all of the range of motion that an older adult with limited mobility can handle. Plus, the water is a great environment for those who have balance issues, because the risk of falling is minimized.
Common water-based exercises include treading water, bicycle kicks, and shoulder circles and presses. Special attention should be paid to the posterior muscles by including leg kickbacks, arm pushbacks and back extensions. More advanced exercisers may use specialized Styrofoam water dumbbells for added resistance.
As long as the water aerobics program is staffed properly and designed according to participants’ limitations and abilities, older exercisers can expect a fun and effective cardio workout.
Not everyone likes working out in the pool. For those who prefer to keep dry while exercising the heart, try a Nustep machine. This low-to-the-floor exercise equipment is both easy to get into and to operate.
One consideration when designing a cardiovascular workout is incorporating movement of the entire body. While a recumbent bike is usually chosen as a safe mode of exercise for older adults, recumbent bikes only require the legs to move. Nusteps move both the legs and the arms at