Fitness for Older Adults - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Fitness with Dave Patania

Fitness for Older Adults

Dave Patania/WTHR Sunrise

As people age, there is no doubt that there are a certain number of well known changes that take place such as: A reduction of lean muscle mass, an increase in bodyfat due to loss of lean muscle mass and a slower metabolism, a decline in maximal heart rate, a decrease in bone density, an increase in blood pressure, a decrease in overall flexibility, a decrease in cardiovascular output (or the amount of nutrient rich blood pumped out of the heart per minute), a decline in maximal oxygen uptake or (VO2 max) and gradual decline in motor skill function and coordination.

What you may not know about all of these "normal" or "well known" changes is that all of them can be slowed and even downright stopped in their tracks with consistent activity and proper nutrition. There is no denying that we do slow down a bit as we age but many adults go through these changes far too early, frequently and severely due to years of inactivity and poor nutrition. In every one of these changes, it has been shown that proper diet and exercise can significantly slow these processes down. Many people have a hard time believing this because with Americans having such bad activity and eating habits, these changes are widely accepted as normal functions of the aging process.

In my experience, I know and work with many people over the age of 65 who defy these changes, still exercise at high levels and have very few if any of these factors that are severe enough to hold them back from a highly active lifestyle. These are people who came to me at the age of 65 or older that have been working out/eating right for 40 plus years and have great bodies that function at very high levels. They are true examples of how there is a distinct difference between chronological and biological age. I am not saying that exercise and diet is the fountain of youth but I don't know of anything else that comes anywhere close to providing such positive benefits for the human body. This is because the human body was designed for activity and if you consistently give it what it was designed to do, you will literally preserve it!

Are you an older adult who hasn't exercised for a very long time or never at all? Have you experienced a lot of these age related changes and the many problems associated with these changes? I am here to tell you that you can still make huge improvements in your health, activity, mobility and quality of life. Study after study has shown that at any age, a consistent exercise routine can help you: add lean muscle mass, improve cardiovascular function, lower blood pressure, lower bodyfat, increase bone density and much more! I challenge all older adults to re-write what is normal for the aging process. I challenge you to open your mind to the possibility of preserving your body, its level of function and productivity far beyond what has ever been imagined! You should still be prudent and check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. However, don't be afraid to set high goals for yourself and work to achieve them. There is a big world out there to experience and enjoy no matter how old you are!

You will benefit from consistent physical activity just as well as anybody, so get checked out and consistently monitored by your doctor, start out slow and work your way up to a new and more active way of life. Just follow my recommendation of performing cardiovascular exercise using a heart rate monitor to keep you in a safe and effective training zone, strength train to increase lean muscle, stretch to restore and improve flexibility, eat nutritious foods and smart supplementation for specific goals and/or nutrient deficiencies.

NOTE: Exercise for the elderly is really no different than it is for anyone else. This is because as long as you have your heart rate monitor and choose the right exercise intensities, choose exercises that you like to do and are comfortable with, you can attain great results no matter what age you are. So if you are 55 and older and think you are going to get special privileges...forget about it!! Get your doctor's consent, grab your heart rate monitor and get moving!!

With these guidelines in mind, take the time to read through all of the fitness information on and build your own personal foundation of fitness.


  • Check with your doctor before starting/re-starting your program of exercise
  • Be proactive and get a complete physical examination to make sure you have a clean bill of health. Early detection is the key, so be smart and get regular checkups!
  • Use a heart rate monitor while you exercise to track and monitor your exercising heart rate to ensure that you are exercising in safe and effective training zones. These easy to use devices do away with wasted time spent on working too hard or not hard enough. They are as simple as wearing a wristwatch and come with easy to follow information on how to determine safe and effective training zones
  • Consistently keep track of your bodyfat, bodyweight and ratio of lean muscle mass vs. bodyfat
  • Use high quality foods and supplements to ensure that you are getting the proper types/amounts of nutrients needed for a high quality of life and activity
  • At any age you should start out slow and work your way up to higher levels of conditioning/activity
  • Choose activities that will provide variation, conditioning, flexibility and skill development and maintenance
  • Choose activities that you will actually enjoy


  • Hey old folks! Break out of boring comfort zones and try new activities. Get out there and explore all that this world has to offer!!!

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