Health & Wellness | July 21, 2022 |

What Exercises Should I Avoid Over 60?

3 minute read
What Exercises Should I Avoid Over 60?

We all notice our bodies changing with age. Whether you have sore knees or an aching back, you likely notice the impact of exercise more than you used to. But don’t let the natural aging process keep you from building strength and staying fit. By choosing the right exercise program, you can avoid injury and enjoy exercise after 60. 

Why is exercise important for people over 60?

Exercise is a great antidote to the natural effects of aging, like declining muscle mass or poor balance. Strength training exercises reinforce muscles and protect bones. Regular fitness can ease aches and pains, reduce stress, enhance mental acuity, lift moods, and improve balance and flexibility.  Exercise classes can also be a great way to build community, whether in person or online. 

Read more about how to maintain fitness as you age.

Top 5 exercises to avoid after 60

You may have a higher risk for injury after age 60, but there’s no reason to stop staying active and fit. At the same time, it’s important to be considerate of the changes in your body’s needs and its limitations. High impact exercises, for example, may be too hard on the joints for some but not for others. If you’re uncertain, ask your doctor for guidance and precautions on what physical activities are suitable for you. If you have conditions like arthritis or diabetes, or ongoing injuries or physical limitations, you may need to avoid certain exercises. Listen to your body, your doctor, and, when available, an experienced physical trainer.

1. Lifting heavy weights

While weight lifting under careful supervision can be suitable for any age, your body can’t build muscle in the same way after 60. If you’re doing squats or lunges with weights that put too much strain on your muscles you risk injury, and it’s harder to recover from a muscle strain or a broken bone when you’re older.  Avoid lifting exercises where the weight is above your head (like a bench press), and ask your personal trainer for guidance in building a safe weight-lifting plan that’s appropriate for you.

What could you do instead of heavy weights?

Lift light weights, use resistance bands, or choose movements where the weight-lifting happens in front of your body, rather than behind or above. 

Read more about top ways to stay active at home.

2. Crossfit or high-intensity circuit training

When you’re looking to get in shape, it can be alluring to sign up for a crossfit class. But make sure you have a clear sense of what a crossfit circuit involves. Often these classes involve high-impact jumps, intense cardiovascular exercise, and movements like burpees that can be hard on bodies. Instead, find a bootcamp for seniors, or connect with your crossfit instructor before the class, to make sure the class allows for modified movements and is suitable for you.

What could you do instead of crossfit?

If you enjoy intense exercise, consider a Zumba or dance class where you can move in a way that honours your body and gets your heart rate up. Join a running group that welcomes a variety of levels, swim lengths, or try water aerobics for impact-free fitness.

3. Crunches

If you’ve been looking for an excuse not to do crunches, it’s your lucky day. Form is especially important if you’re doing crunches, and sitting up in the wrong way may tweak or strain your back. The constant curving and twisting of your spine makes crunches higher risk fitness activity for those over 60. Crunches and situps also strengthen your abdominal muscles without addressing the surrounding muscles, which can create an imbalance in muscle strength. You’re also more likely to strain your neck or back muscles if you don’t already have a strong abdominal core.

What could you do instead of crunches?

Planks or bridges under the supervision of a trainer offer alternatives to crunches. Movements in water or on a chair can also offer support while you build up abdominal muscles. If you choose to build  strength on a mat, consider joining a Pilates or yoga class where you can safely build core strength with less risk to your back, under the guidance of an instructor. build

A senior woman takes a low-impact yoga class online

4. Rock climbing

Unless you’re an experienced climber, you should check  with your physician to determine if it’s safe to try rock climbing.For first-time climbers, heights present a major risk if you slip or fall. If you haven’t built up the body strength to support climbing, it can be difficult to begin later in life. 

What could you do instead of rock climbing?

If you want to try something new, sign up for a class that introduces new movements like Tai chi, yoga, Pilates, or Barre classes. For a new outdoor activity, consider bird watching hikes, museum tours that require walking, or hikes to a beautiful lookout or lake swim this summer. 

Read more about the best Tai chi movements for seniors.

5. Early morning runs

If you’ve been a runner for many years, you can likely continue for many more if you are attentive to your form and invest in quality shoes that absorb impact well. If you’re a regular runner, you’ve likely strengthened the muscles needed to help protect your body from injury. Even so, you may want to avoid running first thing in the morning when muscles are stiff and may be more prone to injury. Start with a walk in the morning and save running for afternoons or evenings.

What could you do instead of early morning runs?

Consider running on a treadmill rather than on streets to limit the impact on your body, and take the time to warm up and cool down with gentle stretches. If you love running while listening to music, aerobics or dance classes are another way to combine movement with tunes. Cycling is a great way to get in your morning cardio with less impact on your muscles.

The best exercises for those over 60

There’s no need to get discouraged by the limitations you may experience as you age.  The best exercises for seniors are low-impact, strength building activities that have a low risk of injury. The right exercise regimen can help you stay fit, aid in recovery, and prevent  injury. Aim for a combination of light strength training or movement to raise your heart rate, and stretches to retain flexibility and ease pain or tension. 

Try these fitness regimens to build muscle and endurance without high impact:

  • Group classes in Pilates, yoga, or Tai Chi
  • Zumba, seniors aerobics, or Barre classes
  • Dance classes: swing dancing, line dancing, square dancing, or exercise dance classes
  • Walking and hiking on beautiful trails or swimming in a lake at the family cottage
  • Modified Chair Yoga or Pilates for varying abilities
  • Swimming lengths at the local pool or enjoying water aerobics
  • Supervised workouts with light weights or resistance bands
  • Bicycling outdoors or on a stationary bike

Learn more about our online exercises classes for seniors.

Get moving with Boomerang

Choose from an array of upcoming wellness classes that are perfect for those over 60. Want to experiment or try something new? Join a strength building class today with a 14-day free trial! It’s the perfect way to get healthy and connect with other people on your fitness journey.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

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