When anyone comes to me with inquiries about which type of strength training exercises that are risky for folks over 65 it’s a safe bet that I will not recommend the following exercises, and I will give my rationale for each:
Traditional Weighted Squats:
This is a very challenging physical activity to complete properly along with the fact that excess weight on the spine can place this demographic at risk for vertebral compression fractures. Though a squat is an amazing exercise, I do teach how to complete this at your counter/sink transition in your home using your body weight. Squats with excess weight on your shoulders are not recommended for this age group.
Again, a great exercise for individuals looking to strengthen their lower extremities, though for the seniors may place them at risk for muscle strains if not done properly along with the potential of eliciting bone integrity issues that can lead to vertebral compression fractures, especially if you are at risk.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT):
Any high-velocity exercise programs place a senior at risk of injury if they are not accustomed to it. I am not saying that HIIT is off-limits for seniors, yet I am saying that all sedentary adults and those that are over 55 that are not accustomed to exercise with higher velocity movements are prone to injury and should not participate in this type of exercise without the close supervision of an exercise or rehabilitation expert such as a physical therapist before completing.
I’m no Yoga specialist, though I have heard that Power Yoga is a fast-paced intense style of exercise. I will mention that any type of fast-paced exercise routine needs to be cautioned by any senior looking to participate, especially when the senior is not accustomed to it. Higher velocity activities require higher force production than normal, and when starting an exercise routine, you need to be conservative in your approach.
This is a ubiquitous exercise promoted since the beginning of time to improve your ‘stomach’ muscles. This particular exercise requires repetitive lumbar flexion, which for a senior with bone integrity issues, known lumbar pathology, and those with poor overall strength can cause more problems. For anybody that comes to a rehabilitation specialist looking to improve their spinal health, core strength, and overall body strength, we always initiate our programs with exercises where you are in a neutral spine. All of our exercise programs will have you in a neutral spine to mitigate the chance of spinal injury.
High-impact Activities Such as Running, Jumping, and Pivoting/Cutting Activities:
I have rarely trained my senior patients to participate in these activities right out of the gate when starting an exercise program. These activities take months of training to safely participate in these activities, especially as we age. When I have, these individuals have been participating in these activities for some time, and have been cleared by their primary physician to do so. If not, I never advise my patients to participate in running, jumping, and other activities that involve sharp cutting or other high-velocity activities. I would start these activities with the close assistance and supervision of a specialist.
In conclusion, I recommend seniors initiate regular exercise conservatively. No matter your current level of fitness or physical health, the Desire Wellness exercise programs will provide safe alternatives and effectively progress you towards reaching your physical fitness and functional lifestyle goals. There are very few programs out there where you can consult with a doctoral-trained physical therapist. We will be happy to discuss your goals and whether it is safe for you to participate in. Try any of our Platinum programs, and take advantage of our senior discount.
We look forward to personally assisting you with reaching your life’s goals.
Dr. Marty Sanchez is a licensed Physical Therapist and owner of Desire Wellness where he, and his wife, Dr. Emily Sanchez have teamed up with other primary care providers to bring multiple resources for healing, improved vitality and mobility. Dr. Marty received his Doctor of Physical Therapy from Azusa Pacific University in 2005. Follow Dr. Marty Sanchez on Facebook and LinkedIn