Building a Stronger Body at Any Age

A little less than three years ago, Jean Hoepfel broke her arm after taking a hard fall during a jog. This isn’t something that someone in her late 60s wanted to be dealing with, but some physical therapy at Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute quickly helped Hoepfel get back on the right track.

While going through physical therapy, Hoepfel, who works as an exercise epidemiologist, took note of the trainers working with various patients on a large selection of exercises. As someone who is adamant about her own physical fitness, Hoepfel decided that these were the experts she wanted to be working with beyond her physical therapy.

“I was impressed with all of the certifications that the trainers had,” said Hoepfel. “Not only that, but they have an extraordinary ability to modify exercises as needed to each individual patient. I think it’s important that everyone work out with proper supervision while performing weight-bearing exercises.”

Hoepfel is passionate about preventing osteoporosis, a degenerative disease that thins and weakens bones as they age and puts women at risk for osteoporosis-related fractures. A recent study from the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research shows high-intensity resistance training can enhance bone mass and density in women with osteoporosis.

Chris Slocum, senior performance coach with Athlete Training and Health and Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute, has been working with Hoepfel for three days a week over the past two years.

“The idea of lifting heavy weights can be horrifying for those with fragile bones,” Slocum said. “But I can see firsthand the improvements in our older patients. We encourage exercises such as dead lifts, bench press and squats.”

Sharon Lederer, 55, was diagnosed with osteoporosis just over eight years ago. Within the past year and a half, Lederer started working out with Slocum multiple times a week. She can currently deadlift more than her own body weight.

“I’ve been consistently working out for nearly 20 years, but I’ve really increased my physical activity in the past year and a half,” Lederer said. “Since I started working out with Chris, my bone density has improved. I never knew I could be this strong at 55 years old.”

At the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute, highly trained human performance experts help every athlete—professional, competitive or recreational—to compete at their highest level of performance. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, click here.


  1. The training staff got wind of my athletic background, and they were able to implement some of that during therapy. This motivated me to keep working on those specific motions once I became an outpatient. Doing so helped me phase out of physical therapy treatment before the rest of my recovery plan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Ali Vise