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Kendal at Oberlin Blog

Circuit Training for Older Adults

Posted by Molly Kavanaugh on Oct 12, 2017, 2:02:00 PM

2 older adult women on exercise trampolineDo you want to engage body and mind, strengthen your muscles, maintain a healthy weight and get your heart pumping without becoming bored?

I know that’s promising a lot, but circuit training is packed full of potential, says Dr. Michael Smith:

“If you’re looking for a full-body workout in 30 minutes or less, circuit training does the trick. You get the benefits of muscle building and toning along with an intense cardio workout. If you get bored trotting along on a treadmill or elliptical, circuit training can fix that too. The exercise options are endless. Switch up the exercises frequently to tame the exercise doldrums and keep improving your body.”

Circuit Training Options

Even better, you can put together a basic circuit at home with minimal expense. Or women can join a Curves® club, a 30-minute circuit program celebrating its 25th birthday with 4,000 clubs throughout the world.

If you live in a life plan community, such as Kendal at Oberlin, you’ll have a well-equipped exercise room, indoor pool and trained staff to custom-design a circuit training program just for you.

There are lots of exercises to consider. Here are a handful of fun exercises that might even evoke fond childhood memories.

How about Happy Hula Hooping?  

Just talking about a hula hoop brings a smile, especially to baby boomers. The plastic, hip-swiveling toy was first marketed in 1958 and became almost an overnight “got-to-have” toy. According to the History channel, 25 million hula-hoops were sold in its first four months of production.

Today, you can buy regular, lightweight hoops or weighted ones, which are bigger, heavier and easier to use. Hula hooping works the core, tightening stomach and abdominal muscles, and gets the heart pumping.

“Hula hooping can provide similar results to other types of aerobic activities, such as dancing — including salsa, hula, belly and swing dancing. On average, women can burn about 165 calories in 30 minutes of hula hooping, and men can burn about 200 calories in 30 minutes of hula hooping,” explains Dr. Edward Laskowski at the Mayo Clinic.

A half hour of hula-hooping is a long time. Start out with a goal of 10 minutes, and alternate the direction of your swivel. Once you get the hang of it, you can alternate speeds and walk while swiveling – assuming you have space or wide doorways.

Betty Hoops, a five-time Guinness Book World Record Holder in hula hoop speed and distance running and hoop manufacturer, lists five common challenges:

  1. Bending the knees too much;

  2. Sitting back and losing support from the hips

  3. Not moving fast enough;

  4. Widening stance too much;

  5. Saying and thinking you will not succeed.

Ready, Set, Jump

Jumping on an indoor, mini-trampoline or rebounder with a stabilizing bar is a low-impact exercise that can improve balance in older adults.

“A study published in November in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics found that older women were less wobbly after 12 weeks of gentle, supervised rebounding exercise, although women who completed standard balance training showed similar improvement,” Gretchen Reynolds writes in The New York Times.

But jumping on a trampoline does pose risks, such as joint sprains, so exercise caution.

A jump rope might be a better choice and provide even more health benefits. It burns calories and strengthens the upper and lower body and heart.

Here are a few basics to get you started, according to WebMD:

  1. Use a beaded rope, which is easier to control than cloth or vinyl;
  2. Wear properly fitted athletic shoes;
  3. Find a safe surface – a wooden floor or exercise mat, not carpet, which can grab your shoe and cause an ankle or knee sprain.

The Wonders of Water

For many of us, taking swimming lessons was our first exercise class.

Today swimming is the fourth most popular sports activity, enjoyed by young and old. No surprise, given all its benefits and minimal risks, especially if you swim with a buddy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists several benefits:

  • improves use of joints and decreases pain for people with arthritis;
  • maintains and can improve bone health;
  • improves mental health, lifting spirits and decreasing anxiety;
  • And people are often able to exercise longer in water than on land.

At Kendal at Oberlin, we offer water Tai Chi to enhance balance.

Convinced? Then join the training circuit!

Circuit Training and More at Kendal at Oberlin

If you’re interested in getting a sample of what Kendal at Oberlin offers, schedule a tour online or consider a “Try It” stay.

A “Try It, You’ll Like It” stay gives you the opportunity to live as a Kendal resident – sleep in an apartment or cottage, visit with residents, enjoy chef-prepared meals, and take in a class or two. If you would like to try it, please contact the admissions office at 1-800-548-9469.

remaining active long form


In the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.

Topics: Healthy Aging

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