Retired...or ReWired? Episode 11: Fitness for Older Adults


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Air date: 
Thu, 07/12/2018 - 11:30am to 12:00pm
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We discuss fitness as medicine, and survey the City's recreational offers for the elderly.

11.  Fitness:

Physical fitness and training for elderly.


Mike Waters

Mike is Director  of Health promotion at Timber Hill Athletic Club for the last 12 years.   

He has a graduate  degree in exercise physiology – adult fitness  ( heart disease prevention)   and he works on “healthy aging” in club members, and the community.

His primary experience is in worksite health promotion program management and development         


  • What does it mean to be old?  What’s your age cut-off for elderly?
  • The fitness industry must adapt to a huge population of boomers who’s physical and psycho-social needs are different than younger populations.  
  • What do you mean by psycho-social needs?
  • Don’t people get to an age where, let’s face it, it’s too late for exercise to have any benefit?  Isn’t it more of a hazardous activity at some point in life?
  • Boomers want functional fitness to be able to do things, play with grandkids.  How does “functional fitness” differ from other kinds of fitness? 
  • Elders want to be functional in the final stage – years of their lives.  How should a fitness program evolve from say, age 60, over the next 20-30 years?
  • What about living in the city---talk about hiking and biking opportunities…
  • What about skiing?  I belong to a “70 Plus” ski club that has members in their 90’s.  Do you think that’s a good thing?
  • What about dancing?  Do you think this is something we should be doing more of?
  •  Do you agree with CDC recommends two kinds of exercises for seniors:

                        1. aerobic: 30 minutes, 5 times/week

                        2, muscle/strengthening:  2 or more times/week…all major muscle groups

                        They say that only c. 1/3rd of US pop. over age 65 gets this level of exercise….

  • What is it about muscle building that is important for older folks?  We’re not trying to show off our physique over spring break.   What’s the deal with strength training?
  • What about stretching/flexibility---how important is yoga and other stretching vs aerobic/muscular?
  • Do you think it’s true that “sitting is the new smoking?”
  • Are you familiar with Tai Chi?  Do you think it’s something older folks should be doing?
  • Isn’t there a danger in over-exercising?  How does a person recognize their limits---know how far to go? 
  • What do you think of the digital watch fitness programs that track body metrics and steps?
  • Aside from health clubs and fitness centers, do you think
  • Is there a need for group exercise activities for elders in say public squares?  Should the City of Portland be organizing group exercises for elders in public parks?


Lauren Hunter, City Parks & Rec

  • Five year round centers:  “the big five.”              
    • EP
    • Mt. Scott
    • MATT
    • South west
    • Charles Johnson
  • Plus other, smaller community centers
  • Classes:  water classes, pastels, writing, performance art, memoirs, geneology
  • No. of users: send out 8,000 guides
  • Hiking program:  three levels
    • Motion movers (2 hours)
    • Hikes for health (6 hours(
    • Wilderness (very fit)
  • Budget?    Fees: c. $50,000/year
  • Volunteers:  had a dinner for 209 (70 core members)
    • Intensive training
  • Most popular programs
    • Van excursions (160 per year)
    • Hiking program
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