Seniors: Use This Benefit/Risk/Alternative Model When Choosing Your Exercises!

Information is critical to making wise decisions. To be useful, it must be reliable, timely and relevant.

If you’re like me, you ‘just Google it’ but then you’re confronted with millions of possibilities–many of which are misleading or even blatantly wrong.

There’s no substitute for using some functional critical thinking skills.

Making good choices regarding your fitness journey means you’ll have better results, enjoy it more, and be safer along the way.

We each start with our own priorities of needs, unique capabilities, and most importantly–a health and wellness profile that’s our most important starting point in the process!

You, more than anyone else, know the unique physical issues and challenges that you must consider.

And it’s important that you do.

It’s very easy to walk into a health club, sign papers and wander into a fitness class. When you sign the waiver forms it’s for the club’s protection, not yours.

The trainer on deck has no knowledge of your health status.

I say this not to disparage the group fitness concept, but to encourage you to move at your own pace, know your body, and take responsibility.

Remember, your aging process has taken place over a period of time; little by little. As a senior, it makes sense to moderate your pace and efforts more so than in the past.

It’s a fitness journey, not a fitness boot camp.

The ‘Boot Camp’ training setting and mentality can be a great fitness tool because the individual pushes beyond his/her normal limits. I participated in the Marine Corps version and understand the concept completely.

Using the Analysis Tool

  • BENEFIT: What’s the specific outcome you’re seeking? Improved balance? Better posture? Losing weight?
  • RISK: This would include specific risks (which might not be obvious) such as the possibility of aggravating a previous injury by using an inappropriate movement. You can even include here logistical issues – – things in your life that might make it more difficult to participate in a class you’re considering – – transportation, cost, convenience, etc.

ALTERNATIVE: Rather than risk injury from a difficult movement, if a safer technique, done properly and with the correct form can produce similar results– it becomes the better alternative. If going to Yoga class isn’t possible could you, at least for now, participate in a different program that would still be of benefit?

For example: Because of an arthritic condition in the joint of my big toe, there is very little range of movement before pain happens quickly and sharply. A very useful leg exercise is the lunge. You have the picture already in your mind of what happens to the back foot in the lunge position – – stability depends greatly on the flexed and planted toes.

This exercise is not for me.

My favorite alternative is the squat, where the downward force is directed to the heel and my toes are happy. Happy toes are good toes.

My other issue involves bursitis in my shoulders. I used to think my father was simply using it as an excuse to avoid exercise years ago.

Now I understand.

In the featured photo you noticed the little blue sacs surrounding the shoulders–the bursae. Their job is to facilitate smooth, cushioned movement. The most visible shoulder muscle, the deltoid, is missing from the picture. It covers the bursae you see. When those bursae are inflamed, the pain is chronic and can, at times, create an acute ‘stabbing’ sensation.

Fortunately for me, the condition is one I can tolerate and still exercise my shoulder and back area, though much differently than in prior years.

Because lack of use allows everything to deteriorate more rapidly, I choose to use it as best I can, while I can, and tolerate the discomfort along the way.

Our fitness journey, because of aging, will definitely involve trade-offs and substitutions.

Guiding you through the process,


Simply Senior Fitness by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Categories: Senior Fitness


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