Weight Lifting for the Elderly

This is a lesson plan on weight lifting for the elderly.

It is a great lesson that you can use in your English class or an ESL lesson. It can also be used in an IELTS speaking class as it is great practice for Part Two of the speaking test.

Most ESL lesson plans on health and fitness are quite generic but in this lesson I concentrate on old people going to the gym. This topic can generate a lot of discussion in your class.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

 


 

Introduction

 

Do old people do exercise in your country?

What kinds of exercise do they do?

How about weight lifting? What kinds of people do that?

 

Reading

 

When we think of weight lifting we usually associate the exercise with younger people. Often young men in their twenties or thirties. We might also see several middle-aged people doing bench presses or squats — but old people?

In the last few years, many doctors and sports experts have recommended weight training for senior citizens. It is not unusual to find people in their sixties, seventies — even in their nineties — sweating it out in the gym.

Why has this phenomenon taken place?

It is because of the great benefits that weight training provides the elderly. As people age, they require an exercise that boosts their physical strength. It helps to improve their posture, aid their balance and can help them with simple tasks like going up the stairs or lifting something in the house.

Daily tasks become so much easier for old people after just a few weeks of weight lifting. This is because the exercises in weight training emulate many day-to-day tasks — such as lifting something off the ground, pushing something, pulling and the use of one’s legs.

Weight lifting also helps in making bones stronger. As people age their bones become more brittle. After a short period of weight lifting, old people’s bones are much stronger.

It also helps with arthritis. Muscles clamp tighter around the joints and this helps to reduce arthritic pain.

Then there are other benefits such as the ability to walk further without feeling tired. It helps with sleep — an ailment that old people often suffer from — and research has found that it can even help with depression.

That’s fine but how can old people get started on weight lifting?

First, they should check with a doctor first. If the doctor gives you the all clear, then you can think about signing up at the local gym.

The next thing is — start slow!

It would be foolish to just jump into a routine where you are going to the gym five or six times a week and trying to lift twice your own weight.

By only going twice a week one can see great benefits. It may not be possible to get that totally ripped look but you can certainly see some of the benefits mentioned above.

And thirdly start with just body-weight exercises. This means only using the weight of your body to exercise. Things like push-ups, pull-ups, squats. These can provide great benefit alone but if you feel you want to add some weight do so — but take it slow at all times.

Who knows? We might see old age pensioners on the front page of bodybuilding magazines.

 

Essential Vocabulary

 

weight lifting

associate

bench press

squat

senior citizens

sweating it out

phenomenon

boosts

posture

emulate

brittle

arthritis

clamp

joints

ailment

depression

the all clear

signing up

totally ripped

bodyweight

pensioners

Exercise

Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.

Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.

For example:

Notebook—a small book with pages of blank paper that students use to make notes when studying.

“I left my notebook at home so I was unable to make any notes in my English class.”

 

Questions

 

  1. Do you agree with the article? Do you think old people should take up weight lifting? Tell the class your reasons.
  1. Are there any dangers for old people doing weight lifting? What are they?
  1. Would you recommend an older relative to take up weight lifting? How would you convince them to take the sport up?
  1. What is a sedentary lifestyle? Is it this that makes old people become weak? How can we prevent having a sedentary lifestyle?
  1. Do your grandparents do any exercise? What do they do? Tell the class about it.
  1. In your country’s culture do old people take care of their physical health through exercise? What kind of exercise is popular for old people in your country? Is this exercise popular with younger people? Why/why not?
  1. As you get older, what methods will you use to maintain your physical strength? Do you do any strength exercises now?
  1. Do you think the younger generation does much exercise in your country? If not, why is this so?
  1. Are there any gyms in your town/city? What do you know about them? Are they expensive? If so, why do you think so?

 

Teacher’s Notes

 

Most countries in the world are aware of weight lifting and gym culture. But the idea of old people lifting weights might be a new concept.

I am playing devil’s advocate here a bit – Hey it’s true, you go down the gym in America or the UK and you can’t move for old people doing weights.

I doubt if that many elderly people go to the gym but by saying so it can create more conversation.


Did you use this lesson plan in your class? I would love to know how it went. Please tell me in the comments below!


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4 thoughts on “Weight Lifting for the Elderly”

  1. I think this article is especially pertinent for EFL classes. In America for example it is not unusual to see old people participating in many youthful physical activities, but in my experience working abroad, I often see that ‘old/older’ people are relegated to specific cultural roles that lock them into being old. So opening the door for students to see benefits for their elders that go beyond pre-conceived customs is excellent! People have to learn to think outside their culture.

    1. That’s true. However, I think in places like China the elderly do a lot of exercise. Tai ji in the early morning and there are many exercise facilities in public areas to encourage physical exercise.

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