The old saying ‘a body in motion stays in motion’ couldn’t be truer when it comes to the aging population.
Setting healthy habits and participating in sports and fitness classes in the earlier stages of life make it much easier to transition sport training methods into the later stages of life. As the body ages, muscles lose their flexibility, bones become more brittle and cells can’t process oxygen as well. Exercise and sports training programs can help post pone and delay this degeneration. Here are a few tips for coaching seniors to perform their best:
Focus on overall conditioning
Training should focus on conditioning the entire body, and not solely focus on sport-specific movements. Training programs that focus only on sport specific movements and exercises can create imbalances. While, a well-conditioned body will be able to move efficiently and effectively during athletic performance.
Include strength and flexibility exercises
A combination of both strength and flexibility exercises will ensure the body is optimally conditioned. Strength will help support the joints and ligaments through the movements required during sports, and well-conditioned muscles will improve power and endurance. Flexibility is just as important, to reduce the risk of injury, help muscle recovery and increase range of motion.
Joint mobility is key to improving sport performance. Aging bodies can become stiff, inflamed and less mobile. Joint mobility in particular will allow for fluid and unrestricted movements during sport performance. Exercises that teach the body to move in the specific ways it will during the sport will help lubricate the joints and improve their function.
Work on balance
Balance exercises are beneficial to performance in most sporting activities. The fine muscles throughout the body that help balance and stabilize the body must be trained to do so. Improving the body’s balance system will lead to improved agility and reaction time resulting in better athletic performance overall.
Improve functional movements
Functional fitness exercises will not only train the muscles to perform everyday activities safely and efficiently, but will also improve sport performance. By simulating common movements associated with specific sports the body will build muscles memory and learn to perform the movements as efficiently as possible, in daily life or during sports.
Fitness programs and sports training for seniors will not only improve physical fitness and sport specific performance, but will also improve day-to-today function and can reduce the need for health care, provide independence, and allow for an overall better quality of life.