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How to introduce seniors to the gym

By Andrea Renee Wyatt, M.S.S., C.S.C.S.

Q: I enjoy working out four to five days a week at a local fitness center. Recently, my 80-year-old mother came to live with my family and me, and I would like for her to join me to exercise. She has never exercised in a formal gym setting before, and I am not sure where to start. Is she too old to begin to exercise, and where should I start?
A: Exercise is truly for every age. The type of exercise and the intensity can be modified to fit any age or fitness level. Finding the right exercise for your mother can allow her to join you working out.
First, speak with a physician and discuss starting of an exercise program. It is important to know the proper exercises and workout intensities to adhere to with your mother to lower her risk of injury. A beginner should always speak with a physician before starting an exercise program.
Acquainting new members to the fitness facility is an important step. Remember, your mother has not been in this environment before and will need to learn and feel comfortable with the layout, what is offered and what to do once there.
Many fitness centers use high-tech equipment even to gain entry into the facility. Be sure your mother feels confident and that she truly belongs as a member of your club. Be patient and personally introduce gym's staff to your mother and explain her situation.
Inform the staff of your mother's new adventure and ask what programs they have available for her. If your facility does not offer senior classes, and even if it does, I would suggest meeting with a fitness professional to properly introduce your mother to the exercise equipment and options for exercise for her individual situation.
Sharing the exercise experience with your mother is a great gift and something that you can both do together. Although you may not complete the same exercises, you can both share the benefits exercising provides.
Always consult a physician before beginning an exercise program. If you have a fitness or training question, write to Andrea in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

2008 King Features Synd., Inc.


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