Can Seniors Crossfit?
A common misconception is that certain types of exercise are appropriate only for certain age groups and that when we get older, it’s time to take it easy. Well, older adults today are breaking the mold and doing amazing things with fitness over 50 (and 60, 70, 80!). Obviously, at any age if you have medical conditions, you need to check with your doctor before starting a fitness routine. But, there is no fitness routine that should be inaccessible to any age group. Just check out these inspirational older adults who are proving you can gain ultimate fitness over 50 and beyond: “Fit at 102”, Video: Seniors Using the Crossfit Method, and Crossfit Grandma’s Video Diary After Losing 79 Lbs.
What is Crossfit?
Crossfit™ is a strength and conditioning program which is designed for overall fitness (versus a specialized program). CrossFit is focused on “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement” and brings in various types of exercise. There are many Crossfit gyms across the country and there are also competitions held for Crossfit athletes.
Fitness Over 50: Research
“Exercise is almost always good for people of any age,” says Chhanda Dutta, PhD, chief of the Clinical Gerontology Branch at the National Institute on Aging, stated on WebMD. Some older people will worry that they might fall/hurt themselves if they exercise when in fact exercise has been shown to prevent falls: it can prevent bone loss, make you you stronger, improve balance, boost your memory and mood, and ease symptoms of many chronic conditions associated with aging.
Unfortunately, according to the National Institute on Aging, just over half of adults 65+ are inactive and only 11% of people 85 and over engage in any regular exercise. Evidence shows that most could work out safely, especially if shown how.
Maria Fiatarone Singh, who’s been studying strength exercise in older adults at the University of Sydney for many years concludes, “If I had to do only one thing for the frail older person, it would clearly be weightlifting exercises.” She has done studies with frail elderly in nursing homes and post-hip fracture patients showing the benefits of relatively intense strength training. Even if Crossfit isn’t for you, the concept of incorporating strength training and a well-rounded fitness routine should be part of most older adults’ lifestyles.
Benefits of Crossfit for Older Adults (Even if you don’t Crossfit!)
Here’s a great post from one older adult who saw many benefits of Crossfit in her daily life. She noticed obvious improvement in balance and strength: being able to regain balance if she trips over something, climbing stairs and opening jars with ease. Little things that can become harder with age (and lack of fitness) like getting up and down from chairs and the toilet or in and out of the car suddenly became easy. Her endurance for all kinds of activities improved. We often accept the aches, pains and limitations of an aging body as part of getting older but her story shows how some challenging exercise can really turn that around. The strength training benefits of Crossfit style workouts can be perfect for reversing muscle mass and strength.
Crossfit and other exercises that challenge the body can also give you a new sense of confidence. The group nature of Crossfit can make it more fun and inspiring.
Another one of the benefits of Crossfit for older adults is the increase in core strength. This helps you maintain balance and more easily handle a stumble or trip.
The benefits of Crossfit for fitness over 50 can apply to other types of routines. The important point is to build strength and endurance, especially to make up for the muscle loss that comes with aging, and to enhance balance. Fitness classes or working out with a personal trainer can motivate you and ensure you benefit and stay safe. We have a whole host of fitness ideas for you!
What’s your fitness over 50 secret? Have you experienced the benefits of Crossfit or started a new routine later in life and found success? Come over to our Facebook page to share more!