T Nation

Advice For My 65yo Mother

Ok, so in a few weeks I will be visiting my mother. While I am there she wants help learning how to train and what to train with.

She is 65, overweight, and has zero weightlifting experience. I really need pretty all around advice on what would make helping her any different from helping one of my buddies.

I also need suggestions on what would be a good start for a home gym, as she doesn’t intend to join a gym. If I should tackle this just like I would for anyone else thats fine and easy enough.

If anyone can help, or point me towards a resource, I would really appreciate it.

cardio my grandfather is 69 and he has ran everymorning for about 15 years I think its the reason he is so livley and healthy

Im saying she should run but walks would be a good idea


n3wb

[quote]
Taran wrote:
She is 65, overweight, and has zero weightlifting experience. I really need pretty all around advice on what would make helping her any different from helping one of my buddies.

I also need suggestions on what would be a good start for a home gym, as she doesn’t intend to join a gym. If I should tackle this just like I would for anyone else thats fine and easy enough. [/quote]

5 years ago I was in the same situation that you. Only difference was that my mother at the time was 70. Things you have to know:

  1. Make written instructions on all apparatus.
  2. Be prepared to spend double the time explaining the why’s and how’s.
  3. Have patience

With these out of the way what I first did was talk with her. Have an over-dinner conversation (my favorite) just to understand what she wants to do. Is this primarily to lose fat? Does she wants to get in contact with other people? Does she feel tired when going up/down stairs? This will help you determine what exactly does she want to do. Sometimes, specially if they are lonely what they want to do is spend some time doing an activity other than regular home chores.

This will help you get the equipment organized. I would suggest at the start that you do not get her some free weights since they have a higher degree of motor coordination which she may not posses as this age, plus the injury potential is much higher.

First thing is her cardiovascular health. Try to get a treadmill with not a too high incline setting. More important is that the handles are close by and that the security in case she trips is activated to stop the machine. Don?t skip in the security measures!

Aside from that a bicycle and some selectorized equipment is your next option. Ideally, you should wait for her to get accustomed to daily exercise to buy them, but if you are far from home, maybe a one time purchase will let you save some money. It is up to you.

As far as prices are concerned I cannot help, but guess that living in America you can get a decent deal on some brand names. Nevertheless, a USD 1,000 to 3,000 should be around the total cost.

There have been studies done that link strenght training in older women to increases in bone density, helping your mother avoid Osteoporosis – I notice most people here are talking cardio, but if you can get her to strength train. . .that would be good. A couple things I found on the net that might help you:

Here’s a pdf file from the National Institute on Aging. Called Exercise: A Guide from the National Institute on Aging.Exercises Motivation and Safety – the audience is your mother, explains the importance of excersise and strength training.

has several chapter w how tos of strength exercises, strength and balance exercises, etc. I think it would give you a lot of good ideas.

EQUIPMENT – A CHAIR, SOME DUMBBELS, AN EXERCISE MAT – that should be perfect for you.

http://www.niapublications.org/exercisebook/ExerciseGuideComplete.pdf

Here’s just a general article from the CDC to help convince her:

Growing Stronger - Strength Training for Older Adults: Why Strength Training? - Center for Disease Control
http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/growing_stronger/why.htm

If your mother has never done any exercise, doesn’t like exercise (some people just don’t) has never worked with any type of apparatus, machine, db, elastic etc. its not time to start now!

Just get her to walk outside, join a walking club with people her age, find something that she will enjoy, that will help with her health but that she won’t hate!

Put her on a “program” and you’re garanteed she will do one day and then quit…with reason.

Key workd is SIMPLE, if its not she won’t do it. Your goal is not to get her to become a fitness model, but rather to get her to become active and to benefit healthfully from that activity.

She has to start somewhere and walking is one of the best ways to “start”

I agree.

Build up her condition first by light cardio: walking, riding a bicyle.
Get her to do some mild stretches to increase her ROM.
Get her to eat decent food.

Give it a few months and when she’s ready to use some weights, visit Krista’s website: www.stumptuous.com/cms/index.php

some author should write a book called bodyweight exercises for seniors.

Thank you everyone for the advice, I really appreciate it. I probably should have been a bit more specific about her condition. While she is overweight she is already quite active in the area of light cardio. She walks very regularly (usually 5km ish a few times a week). She will definetly be buying a treadmill, for raining/snowy days etc. I talked to her since making the OP and it turns out she has actually done mild lifting within the past few years (small DBs, chair/mat stuff), I am not sure if this changes anything.

My question was primarily about how to help her with the transition from light cardio to strength training, though seeing the importance of light cardio was quite helpful. I will take a good look at those links.

Get a sandbag set from Ironmind. Easily adjustable for all different weights. Can do a plethora of exercises. Any squats where the bag is on her back should not cause pain like a bar might with her. Doesn’t take up much space either.

Bodyweight exercises.

Also, intensify the cardio. While running might hurt her knees and back, how about riding a bicycle and pushing the envelope a bit?

[quote]Taran wrote:
Thank you everyone for the advice, I really appreciate it. I probably should have been a bit more specific about her condition. While she is overweight she is already quite active in the area of light cardio. She walks very regularly (usually 5km ish a few times a week). She will definetly be buying a treadmill, for raining/snowy days etc. I talked to her since making the OP and it turns out she has actually done mild lifting within the past few years (small DBs, chair/mat stuff), I am not sure if this changes anything.

My question was primarily about how to help her with the transition from light cardio to strength training, though seeing the importance of light cardio was quite helpful. I will take a good look at those links.[/quote]

Ok, so she is walking twice a week, get her to walk everyday now, that would be 7 days a week. As for weights, or strength training, I reiterate to maybe look into her interests (what does she want???) and get her into a class for seniors that does light strength training before sticking her into a gym.

Walking regularly will help the heart, strength training class will help the tight joints.

Maybe looking at what her goals are will help. Does she just want to be able to continue moving, stay active, avoid further joint problems, does she have any particular ongoing health problems (heart, arthritis, cholesterol, diabetes etc.)

get some elastic bands, and 1,3,5kg db’s.
start doing basic exercises with the bands.
squats with a chair.
step ups on her stairway.
brisk walks around the block or the garden.
press ups againts the wall.
she have to start doing very light and easy exercise, otherwise she wont do them.
hope it helps.
ton