Exercises for Seniors to Avoid
Every one of us is a unique person, and we all have bodies that have different capabilities, limitations, and once we enter our twilight years, age at a different pace. Exercise is healthy and recommended no matter what age you are, but for seniors, some exercises are unsafe and unwise to do once over the age of 60. The good news is that for every exercise you should avoid, there’s a safer exercise you can substitute it for to make sure you’re not neglecting any of your muscle groups, and allowing you to stay healthy and active all through your life.
- Leg Press: Most trainers who specialize in senior exercise agree this exercise is at the top of the list to avoid for older adults. This exercise is done by pushing your legs until straight against a weighted platform. Many people think that because you’re doing it while sitting back on a padded bench, your lower back is protected, but it is in fact not. Your lower vertebrae, your lumbar spine, has a naturally arched shape, which it needs to maintain to avoid injury. The body mechanics of the leg press machine can often flatten your lower back, and when heavy weight is involved, your spinal discs can be damaged.
- Crunches: This abdominal exercise presents the same issue as the leg press. By laying flat on the floor and raising your head and shoulders up by squeezing your abdominal muscles, you flatten the arch of your lower spine. And while crunches are a body weight exercise that uses just a fraction of your weight, the high amount of reps typically done can increase the danger.
- Running: Running is at first blush the most natural and easiest way to get fit. It requires no equipment, can be done just about anywhere, and is something our bodies are designed to do and everyone understands. But for older and heavier bodies, the repeated impact of running can cause real damage, especially if you begin late in life and don’t have a body that’s acclimated to it over the years. Every mile you run takes more than 2000 strides, and each stride will impart a force up to four times your body weight on your joints.
- Upright Row: One big problem with most middle-aged and older people is we tend to sit too much. This can lead to a chronic hunched over posture, which causes chronically tight muscles in their chest and upper back, coupled with weak muscles in the neck and middle back. The upright row is done by pulling a weight vertically with the upper back muscles, which can make them even tighter.
- Chest press: Most older people already have too-tight chest muscles, and since this exercise involves repeatedly squeezing them, avoiding this exercise, especially with free weights, is a good idea. The chest press machine is safer, as it limits the body mechanics along specific movements, but always make sure to use light weights when starting out, and keep your movements slow and deliberate.