As people age, they become more susceptible to several health-related issues, including a decrease in muscle mass, flexibility, and bone density.
As a result, elderly people struggle to perform most tasks. But due to the aging population worldwide and the lack of proper care facilities for the elderly, people find it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is why there has been a surge in senior fitness training in the past few years.
People want to maintain good physical health so they can maintain a healthy lifestyle and improve their health along the way. But many certified personal trainers lack the ability to work with senior clients because of their unique needs. If you’re one of them, this guide will help you understand some things you should avoid when training older clients.
Moreover, if you want more in-depth knowledge of senior fitness, check out the senior fitness course offered by W.I.T.S. Education.
How Are Elderly Clients Different From Younger Ones?
It’s no secret that younger people are considerably more physically fit compared to senior citizens. Not only do they have higher stamina, but they also have better overall health. Younger people are also less susceptible to injuries and can heal faster.
But these are just superficial things. Fitness goes beyond that. It also considers internal factors such as bone health, muscle, and strength. Senior citizens usually have weaker bones due to less calcium absorption, which leads to a lower bone density.
So when working out, they’re more likely to sustain heavy injuries if they push themselves too hard. Similarly, they also take longer to recover because their body isn’t as active as before.
What To Avoid When Training Senior Citizens?
Same Exercises For Everyone
As a personal trainer, you can get away with recommending similar exercises to many of your clients without the need to conduct an extensive assessment of their fitness. But when it comes to senior citizens, that won’t suffice. Many senior citizens usually have age-related health issues unique to each client. If you don’t thoroughly assess their fitness levels and health, you might end up recommending the wrong workouts to them.
This could lead to injuries. So the best course of action is to determine each client’s fitness levels and then design an exercise program to help them meet their fitness needs without hurting them.
Pushing Them Too Hard
Another thing you must avoid is pushing the clients too hard. Pushing clients to their limits is considered a good thing in fitness training. But senior citizens aren’t at their peak, which is why they can end up getting hurt. Depending on their age and fitness levels, you can determine the stamina of each client. Using that, you should only recommend exercises that they can perform properly.
Moreover, you should avoid pushing clients too hard and giving them long workout sessions. Their bodies can’t handle that much stress, and they’ll more likely end up with muscle damage that can lead to further injuries if left untreated.
Developing A Vigorous Exercise Program
This isn’t only true for senior citizens but all clients. However, elderly people are more likely to get hurt. Your exercise programs should involve different exercises to work out all body parts. However, they shouldn’t be too much. Doing a few exercises with more reps is better than doing several exercises. This only frustrates the clients, and they might get exhausted quickly.
A good approach to this is having fewer exercises per workout. Additionally, you can design the workout program to have specific exercises on specific days. For example, you can focus on the torso and upper body at the beginning of the week while working on the lower body towards the end of the week.
Don’t Force Fast Progress
Many exercise instructors force faster progress on their clients to achieve their ideal fitness levels faster. However, this isn’t the right way to go about things. Especially with senior citizens, forcing progress only makes the clients push their limits. It can lead to fatigue and exhaustion. With senior citizens, progress is even slower. If you push your clients for faster results, it can lead to permanent health issues.
On top of that, their fitness levels can decrease because of the added stress. Instead of pushing the client, you should look for progress even if it’s small. This shows that the client is putting effort into their workouts which is all you need when it comes to senior citizens.
Shorter Rest Time
Many fitness trainers help clients achieve faster results by cutting down the rest time in favor of more workouts. This can be extremely detrimental to the client’s health. On the other hand, senior citizens need additional rest time due to their weaker bodies. Their muscle fiber production is reduced, so their bodies take a longer time to repair themselves.
Pushing for shorter rest times will only lead to additional stress on the body, which will cause the clients to not perform their exercise properly because their bodies haven’t recovered properly. With senior citizens, you want a considerably longer rest time so they can come back recharged for their next workout session.
HIIT Workout Plans
Most senior citizens can perform all kinds of workouts depending on their health and fitness. However, there are still a few that should be avoided. One of them is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Interval training isn’t recommended to fit younger clients because it takes a toll on the body. But with senior citizens, it can lead to severe injuries that can impact their mobility.
That’s because interval training is intense aerobics workouts involving a lot of jumping and quick movements to get the heart rate up. These exercises also need a longer resting period because of their impact on the body.
Get Your Senior Fitness Certification With W.I.T.S. Education
W.I.T.S. Education is a fitness training institute offering personal health trainer programs to help fitness trainers avail different fitness certifications. Our specialization catalog includes a certified personal trainer program, medical fitness specialist program, group exercise instructor program, senior fitness programs, and many more.
Our courses are also accredited by the N.C.C.A. and the American Council of Education. We also have the largest network of colleges and universities, so students can earn course credits by completing our programs. We aim to help students develop practical skills to help them advance their fitness careers. Take a look at our courses and enroll today!