Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes
Welcome back to this special series featuring the stories of the Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes as they pursue their fitness goals in 2023. You can find all of our Sponsored Athletes’ stories here.
Kathy Molloy, 73, is an active participant in CrossFit workouts, golf, and pickleball. After receiving a diagnosis of osteoporosis in her late 50s, Kathy started lifting weights to increase bone density and overall strength. Today, she is sharing a variety of ways older adults can start exercising to improve muscular, cardiovascular, and mental health.
In my previous blogs and presentation, I shared the story of my osteoporosis diagnosis and how I got involved with CrossFit, which changed my life for the better in so many ways. I also talked about the importance of warming up before and cooling down after any physical activity that you engage in, from pickleball to golf. This time, I would like to share a bit more about my fitness journey and leave you with three activities all seniors can do.
Activity 1: Foam Rolling
“I have discovered that these old bones and muscles need a bit more of a wakeup call!”
Before I even start a session, I do some foam rolling and a few warm-up exercises. At this point you might be asking, “Kathy, why does your CrossFit routine always include warm-ups and cooldowns?” Simply put: I am almost 74 years old, and in the past 14 years of working out through CrossFit, I have discovered that these old bones and muscles need a bit more of a wakeup call! As we age, muscles lose elasticity, joints ache, and connective tissues like tendons get a bit more tense leading to muscle cramps and soreness. Adding the extra 15 minutes to my exercise session — particularly the foam rolling — has been very beneficial.
Rock and Roll!
So, what is foam rolling? The technical term is “self-myofascial release.” Using a foam roller in certain movements is like getting a deep tissue massage. We can roll out and release the muscle tightness or “knots” that may build up in our connective tissue and muscles. By pressing certain points on our body, we can help our muscles recover and get back to normal function, meaning our muscles are elastic, healthy, and ready to perform.
Benefits and Reminders
I recently came across a great article from SeniorLiving.org on foam rolling for seniors. Here are a few of the key benefits mentioned:
- Relieves fatigue after exercise
- Promotes normal blood circulation
- Decreases chances of injury during any activity
The beauty of foam rolling is that you control the amount of pressure. If you come across a particularly painful area, you can moderate the level of intensity. Here are a few important reminders from the same article:
- Remember to breathe slowly. Avoid holding your breath throughout the whole process.
- Roll slowly and properly. Experts advise rolling not more than an inch per second.
- Avoid rolling over your bones, joints, neck and lower back.
Activity 2: CrossFit
With CrossFit, I started with small steps and gradually — through patience, consistency, and determination — I was able to perform movements and exercises I never dreamed I could do. For example, learning to squat properly is very important. A lot of other movements build off the squat. My first attempt was done using a 24-inch box. I sat down on the box, stood back up, and did as many repetitions as I could. Over many days into weeks, I progressed to “touch & goes” where my behind would just graze the box before I stood back up. Next, I moved to a 20-inch box. Over time, I graduated to performing squats without the assistance of the box at all.
What are some of the benefits of CrossFit for older adults?
- Improved strength and flexibility throughout entire body via varied exercises
- Social interaction and community
- Improved mental health
During my live presentation on Wednesday, October 18, I will demonstrate additional CrossFit exercise movements and progressions beyond the squat. Want to learn more about CrossFit in the meantime? Check out my interview with WBTW:
Activity 3: Water Aerobics
Ready to dive a little deeper? Many of the exercises that we do on land can be done in the pool! Aerobic means using oxygen that adequately meets the energy demands our body needs during exercise. Aerobic exercises are great for our cardiovascular system. I believe the best benefit of water aerobics is that it’s a low-impact activity. Exercising in the water means less stress and strain on your joints.
Additional benefits include:
- Helps reduce pain and symptoms of arthritis
- Increases flexibility and balance
- Prevents bone and muscle loss
Think you can’t? You can!
In my upcoming presentation (stay tuned for information at seniorplanet.org/fitness), I plan on demonstrating my foam rolling routine, along with some static and dynamic exercises. I will also show some of my progressions for a variety of CrossFit exercises and movements. If you’ve never tried these types of activities before, don’t be intimidated. I hope you’ll join me to try something new, ask questions, and have fun!
In need of a little motivation to get moving? Join our free online exercise programs, get the latest fitness updates from Senior Planet by signing up for our health and wellness newsletter, and follow us on social media (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) to get to know these awe-inspiring athletes. You might just find a new love for fitness along the way!
Please consult your physician or other healthcare professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs. The exercise instruction and information presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical consultation.