Advice on training a 70 year old female

I would really appreciate any insight or ideas on how to train a specific client. Here is as much detail as i can think to include.

She is 70 years old,5'6" and 130lbs, with emphysema and COPD, osteoporosis, and is in a fairly acute state of deconditioning.

She uses oxygen virtually all the time.

Posture is poor, shoulders rounded forward, hip flexibility issues, and very weak abdominal area.

She has limited mobility and difficulty sustaining light activity for more than 5 minutes at a time, due to oxygen debt.

She has recently completed 6 weeks of rehabilition work stemming from the COPD diagnosis, which consisted primarily of treadmill walking under supervision, and some very light basic dumb bell work (overhead presses, step ups, arm curls). she is cleared (and encouraged) to continue this type of work on her own, by her Doctor.

Her diet is excellent, weight is not an issue.

Other issues affecting training possibilities include a fear of water, anxiety around travelling (all training will need to take place in-home with limited equipment).

Her goals are improved mobility and endurance, and improved posture and back support.

Thus far, since the rehab has ceased, we have continued the light treadmill walking (We are up to three rounds of 3 minutes at 2 mph, with 3 minutes of rest) twice a week, and light weight training (overhead press, step ups, curls, 3/4 upright rows).

With the weight training we have progressed to one set of 10 each exercise using 2.5lb dbs.

We are currently pursuing very small increments of improvement (10 seconds more a week on the treadmill, one additional rep on the exercises, until we can get to two sets of Cool, when she feels that it is possible.

i am looking for any advice on how better to help her acheive postural improvement, back support, and endurance. Professional training is not realistic at this point, both from the standpoint of affordability and due to teh fact she has great anxiety about leaving her house .

I feel the most urgent need lies in core stability, which at this time is very poor and usually the limiting factor both walking and maintaining good form on the exercises.

Any help is greatly appreciated, its my Mother, and if it is to be, its up to me, but I have no experience working around so many issues.

Todd Wilson's picture



Well, at least make that the goal.....

Seriously, the first thing to do is to get her Vitamin D3 levels checked. If they are not at least 50, then she has to supplement to get them that high. Not on
Y will it help to prevent and/or correct osteoporosis, which sounds likely with her posture, but at least two studies indicate that higher vitamin D levels help to not only prevent falls in seniors from being as serious, but decreases the incidence of falls as the receptor sites for vitamin D is located in the cells of fast twitch muscle fibers. What muscle fibers do you use to keep yourself from falling???

As for exercise, small dumbbells, even canned food can be used for all manner of dumbbell type movements, but manual resistance movements can be useful for someone with such low strength levels. Manually resisted leg curls, manual one legged presses, etc. A cut off broom handle or other stick about 24 inches long can be used for manual resistance upper body movements.

Also, step ups on very short steps are good, not only for strength, but will help her balance. You'll likely have to provide a generous spot however.

Also, daily work for 10-20 minutes is better than 60 minutes twice a week.

And it will be difficult for some movements, especially given her posture, but ROM has to be emphasized.

For an elderly person with poor strength and mobility, getting up from a chair can be a strain.... Practicing it for reps can be incredibly beneficial. I mean, it's essentially a squat we all take for granted.

Was just going to mention

Was just going to mention the 'chair squats' ... but I see I've been beaten to it.

Hope she makes good progress, Yukon.

Awesome, thanks for the

Awesome, thanks for the ideas, we are starting this Monday and will start with daily 15 minute sessions. The chair squats are just the thing I think. Very much appreciated!

And the vitamin d

And the vitamin d information is invaluable, I had not heard that before. Thanks again!

Todd Wilson's picture

I have some info on vitamin

I have some info on vitamin D on my blog, and am doing research currently for future post. It's as important s fish oil!