I actually hope you’re not surprised. The answer should be a screaming “YEAH THEY SHOULD!”. There is no age limit to workouts, there ARE modifications to make for specific ages, exercise past, and modifications for those who have other health related issues. For example, Rock Steady Boxing for the population who have Parkinson’s Disease.
ANOTHER YEAR OLDER, OH NO!
Aging is a process that no human can avoid and comes with potential health issues as we become elderly, including muscular, nervous, and cardiovascular system dysfunction (Usui, 2015). Master’s athletes are athletes who are at least fifty years old and compete in athletic events and also need exercise modifications and considerations due to the natural aging process (Powers & Howley, 2018). This includes sarcopenia, the age related decline of muscle mass (Powers & Howley, 2018). On the opposite end, the younger population including youth athletes have their own exercise considerations. Youth athletes have a decreased chance of any cardiac issues or disease, but have a possibility of overtraining from not being fully developed and increase chance of burning out of a/multiple sports (Powers & Howley, 2018; Harris & Watson, 2014).
Side Effects of Aging
The nervous, muscular, and cardiovascular system all decrease in function with age, especially when someone isn’t doing any consistent supervised resistant and/or aerobic exercise (Usui, 2015). Sarcopenia decreases the amount of muscle fibers we have as we age, along with our peripheral nerve fibers decreasing (Powers & Howley, 2018; Usui, 2015). These decreases lead to a decrease in muscle mass and strength, posture control, mobility and flexibility, and skilled motor function (Usui, 2015). With a decrease in muscle strength, posture control, and motor function, balance becomes an issue and chances of falling increases (Day, Trotter, Donaldson, Hill, & Finch, 2016). Between 28%-39% of the population over 65 years of age in Australia fall an average of once per year (Day et al., 2016). Around 11%-21% experience multiple falls per year (Day et al., 2016). Falls tend to have potential consequences like injures including fractures, decreased confidence, mobility, and independence, which all contribute to decreasing quality of life (Day et al., 2016).
Exercise to the Rescue
Exercises including work on falls prevention will decrease the chances of falling and improve quality of life through maintain muscle fibers and cardiovascular health (Day et al., 2016). Even Master’s athletes are subjected to declines in athletic performance with their “exceptionally successful aging” and have to train based on their health (Powers & Howley, 2018). When it comes to strength training, resistance training exercise can increase strength and muscle mass combined with proper protein intake but won’t be as significantly increased as a younger individual (Andrews, MacLean, & Riechman, 2006). Andrews et al. (2006) study used leg press, seated leg curl, knee extension, chest press, lat pull-down, tricep extension, bicep curls, and calf raises for their resistance training exercises. Including strength training exercises with balance fall preventions exercises including walking components, free weight strengthening, and postural strengthening exercises (Andrews et al., 2006; Day et al., 2016). Eating an appropriate amount of protein combine with resistance training can help prevent and decline the process of sarcopenia, reducing chances/improve posture control and balance which will decrease the chances of falls.
With the elderly, some may not have the ability or want to leave their home to go workout. At home training falls prevention exercises can improve strength, health, and coordination while being supervised by a physical therapist or certified personal trainer (Day et al., 2016). Another factor when working with the elderly is possible lack of confidence if they have no previous experience with strength training or they have fallen in the past and are worried about falling again (Day et al., 2016). Canning et al. (2014) study on a group with Parkinson’s disease examining the effectiveness of decreasing number of falls after a falls prevention training program. This resulted in the population not decreasing the number of falls; however, they increased muscular strength, quality of life, balance, and decreased the fear of falling (Canning et al., 2014). The Parkinson’s patients confidence was increased and that can be transferred into the elderly population without Parkinson’s.
Youth population does not have the same issues as the elderly population, including masters athletes. Younger children have a decreased chance of any cardiac disease or sudden death when participating in endurance training (Powers & Howley, 2018). Resistance training for youth athletes has been a controversy because of statements towards resistance training stunting growth from damaged growth cartilage (Powers & Howley, 2018). Instead, studies have resulted that moderate resistance training and exercise through sports increases bone health and densistely, increases motor unit recruitment, and then increases muscular strength (Powers & Howley, 2018).
Soccer is a popular sport among youth athletes and requires an appropriate amount of strength, speed, aerobics, and agility to perform from the sport being very physical as well as psychological and technical (Paul & Nassis, 2015). When it comes to fitness testing for soccer, testing procedures for youth athletes have to differ from standard test for adult athletes because of height, maturation, and training history (Paul & Nassis, 2015). The same considerations have to take place when prescribing strengthening and aerobic exercises for children. Youth athletes should be participating in aerobic exercises like high intensity running, jumping, speed rope, and sports that they enjoy while being able to have fun. Youth athletes and children working out can improve maximal aerobic power and improve cardiopulmonary fitness with high-intensity interval training with a decreased chance of physical complications compared to older adults (Powers & Howley, 2018). Body weight strengthening exercises like walking lunges or any lunge variation, squats, and push-ups can be done to develop motor unit recruitment and movement patterns prior to moderate resistance training (Powers & Howley, 2018).
Kids Just Want to Have Fun
Youth athletes should be doing exercises, training, and sports that they enjoy to avoid potential youth burnout. Self-determination theory (SDT) suggest that an athlete is motivated by psychological needs including autonomy, connectedness, and competence and is on a continuum of amotivation, intrinsic motivation, and extrinsic motivation (Harris & Watson, 2014). SDT is used to examine athlete burnout (Harris & Watson, 2014). When an athlete specializes in a sport at an early age they increase the chances of burning out due to a decrease in self-determined behavior, decreased enjoyment in the sport, and a lack of development in a multifaceted identity compared to other multi-sport peers (Harris & Watson, 2014). Putting a youth athlete in multi-sports can decreases the chances of these burnouts as well and promote increases in speed, strength, and movement mechanics.
… youth athletes and older athletes/sedentary people can receive positive strength training and aerobic training benefits including increased muscle mass, motor unit recruitment, posture control, and motor control (Powers & Howley, 2018; Paul & Nassis, 2015; Day et al., 2016). Considerations have to be examined prior to workouts like balance issues, postural issues, and cardiovascular issues in older adults prior to prescribing a workout program (Usui, 2015) Youth athletes also have to be having fun and doing multiple sports and workouts they enjoy to avoid early athlete burnout (Harris & Watson, 2014).
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Andrews, R. D., MacLean, D. A., & Riechman, S. E. (2006). Protein intake for skeletal muscle hypertrophy with resistance training in seniors. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 16, 362-372.
Canning, C. G., Sherrington, C., Lord, S. R., Close, J. C. T., Heritier, S., Heller, G. Z., … Fung, V. S. C. (2015). Exercise for falls prevention in parkinson disease: a randomized controlled trial. Neurology, 84, 304-213. Doi: 10.1212/wnl.0000000000001155
Day, L., Trotter, M. J., Donaldson, A., Hill, K. D., & Finch, C. F. (2016). Key factors influencing implementation of falls prevention exercise programs in the community. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 24, 45-52. Doi: 10.1123/japa.2014-0143
Harris, B. S., & Watson, J. C. (2014). Developmental considerations in youth athlete burnout: a model for youth sport participants. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 8, 1-18. Doi: 10.1123/jcsp.2014-0009
Paul, D. J., & Nassis, G. P. (2015). Physical fitness testing in youth soccer: issues and considerations regarding reliability, validity, and sensitivity. Pediatric Exercise Science, 27, 301-313. Doi: 10.1123/pes.2014-0085
Powers, S. K., & Howley, E. T. (2018). Exercise physiology: theory and application to fitness and performance (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education
Usui, S. (2015). Measures to maintain and improve the health and physical fitness of the elderly, and the characteristics of their health behaviors and considerations. Advances in Exercise and Sports Physiology, 21(2), 25-34.