Cardio Preparation Exercises for Active Aging Clients
Why is Fitness Important in the Active Aging Population?
Over the past several years, interest in staying fit and active has increased due to the life improving benefits it can provide. For older adults, not only does staying active keep them feeling young and vibrant, but it can reduce the risk of falls and can even contribute to a decrease in other health related issues.
According to The National Institute on Aging, regular exercise helps control blood pressure, body weight and cholesterol levels while significantly reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Incorporating a balance of strength, cardio, and stability training can be the key to longevity and improved quality of life for the aging population.
Progressing Your Aging Clients to Upright Cardio Training
When working with older adults who may have little to no experience participating in a fitness program, there are guidelines that should be followed when progressing them from beginner to fully upright cardio training. Building an appropriate level of strength, stability, and endurance will allow your clients to successfully transition to upright cardio movements including activities of daily living (walking without support, climbing stairs, etc.), stationary training with cardio equipment (treadmill, EFX, etc.), hiking, etc.
Use this workout to boost your older adult clients’ stability, as well as provide them with the confidence needed to use cardiovascular equipment to maintain and improve their overall health. This workout was developed for older adults over age 85 or those who may have difficulty with balance and stabilization. Once they can successfully perform the activities below, click here to learn how to safely introduce active aging clients to the EFX.
Evaluate the needs of your client and allow adequate space as well as external support when needed. Guide your client through the movements below as a circuit, transitioning from one movement to the next. Each movement shown below includes a recommended variation as well as advanced options and modifications to best suit the needs of varying ability levels.
Squat Variations: Movement benefits – Improved strength and stability through legs, pelvic floor, and core.
Complete a total of 10-12 repetitions of the following:
- Recommended: With external base of support, perform a squat hovering over a chair to promote proper form, or guide your client through proper form in the standing position.
- Modified: In a seated position, apply pressure through the feet, pressing into the floor and while engaging the muscles and hold for 5 seconds and relax.
- Advanced: Without support, have your client perform squat with proper form while holding external resistance such as two dumbbells or kettle bells.
Lateral Bodyweight Transfer: Movement Benefits – Improved body awareness and stabilization.
Complete 10-12 repetitions at a moderate pace focusing on muscle engagement and shifting bodyweight:
- Recommended: In a standing position with feet hip width and fully grounded, cue your client to shift his or her body weight from left foot to right with slight bending of the knees as they sway side to side. Be sure that they are not leading with the hips and are keeping the center of gravity constant.
- Modified: In the seated position with feet hip width or slightly wider, cue your client to apply a moderate amount of pressure through the base of the left foot and transition that pressure to the right foot allowing the left to relax. Posture should be tall and any shifting forward of the trunk should be avoided to promote proper form and muscle activation.
- Advanced: In the standing position with feet hip width and eyes closed, have your client shift his or her bodyweight from the left foot to the right with slight bending at the knees as they sway side to side. Be sure that they are not leading with the hips and are keeping the center of gravity constant. You may introduce external support for your client such as a chair or fixed training bar if needed for comfort and stability.
Single Leg Lift Variations: Movement Benefits – boosting strength and mobility through the hips and lower body while improving balance.
Have your client perform 10-12 repetitions on each leg:
- Recommeded: In the standing position, draw the left knee, bringing the heel as close to the height of the right knee as possible and lower to starting position and repeat. Perform one set of 10-12 on each leg.
- Modified: In the seated portion, lift the left knee as high as possible while maintaining posture through the trunk and upper body. Lower the left foot back to starting position and repeat. Perform one set of 10-12 on each leg.
- Advanced: In the standing position, cue your client to lift the lift knee and lower back to starting position with both eyes closed. Perform one set of 10-12 on each leg.
Torso Rotation: Movement Benefits – increased core strength and stabilization.
Have your client perform 10-12 repetitions of this movement.
- Recommended: In a standing position with feet at hip width, have your client extend both arms forward with palms together and parallel to the floor. Keeping the shoulders relaxed, rotate the upper body to the left and right, pointing the fingertips in the direction in which they are traveling. Be sure that they only turn as far as is comfortable without compromising the position of the feet. Even if the rotation is a small movement due to limitations in range of motion, this will still provide a great deal of benefit in boosting core strength and mobility.
- Modified: Cue your client to complete the movement above in the seated position.
- Advanced: In a standing position with eyes closed, have your client perform the torso rotation as mentioned above. Removing the point of reference for stabilization forces the body to work harder to stabilize through the full movement.
Is, Ys, Ts, Ms: Movement Benefits – boost shoulder range of motion and stabilization.
Have your client perform 10-12 repetitions of this movement:
- Recommended: In a standing position, have your clients move both arms into the following positions, coming back to neutral between each (arms down by sides and relaxed). “I”-position: reach arms directly over the shoulders, “Y” position: open arms wide and reach up into a Y position. Perform the same movement with “T” and “M” positions.
- Modified: Complete the above movements in the seated position.
- Advanced: Complete the recommended movements in the standing position with eyes closed.