Although exercise is especially important for
people 50 years old and over, many older Americans who haven't had an
active lifestyle are often faced with a dilemma: They want to get in
shape and be active, but they have no training and are intimidated by
the young "buff" bodies at the gym. In many cases, they give up before
they even start.
The "No Fear Strength Training" program, launched
by fitness director Kathy Wenzlau at Sun City Grand, Ariz., Del Webb
Corporation's adult community near Phoenix, provides an example of how
seniors can participate in an exercise regimen. Some of Wenzlau's "No
Fear" tips, which can be used for individuals of all ages:
Increase the comfort level about a particular exercise, like
weightlifting, by equating it to everyday tasks like lifting and
carrying groceries, putting things on shelves or playing with
Think of a variety of reasons why it is important to build strength,
such as improving looks, defining muscle, trimming fat and building
bone mass, which reduces the risk of fractures. Feeling stronger also
Ease into the process.
After obtaining a doctor's approval to proceed, start out slowly, maybe
just 20 minutes on a treadmill or exercise bike, followed by simple
exercises using moderate hand weights.
Strength training should be conducted at least twice a week, but
seniors will benefit most from training or exercise of some kind at
lease three to five days a week.
Boredom is the enemy of fitness training for people of any age, and no
less so for seniors. If boredom sets in, try encouraging something
different. If weight training gets boring, get in the pool and
particiapte in water aerobics or a class outside. Keep the program
"It's never too late to start strength training,"
said Wenzlau, adding that senior pain sufferers do a disservice to
themselves by not working on their strength and flexibility.
"People who are in pain tend to be very guarded in
their movement," she said. "We can help those in pain really increase
their range of motion — and improve their attitude about life
— through a combination of appropriate stretching and
"I've seen people with arthritis, for example,
have great increases in strength, accompanied by less pain and
stiffness," Wenzlau added.
Address: Del Webb Corporation, P.O. Box 1705, Sun City West, AZ 85372-1705.