What makes us weaken with age? The prime culprit is sarcopenia—age-related loss of muscle mass, strength, power and function (Sayer et al. 2013; Morley 2012). Morley (2012) says 5%–13% of 60- to 70-year-olds and 11%–50% of people in their 80s have sarcopenia, which means “poverty of flesh.”
New research from the University of Navarra in Spain shows that exercise can have a significant positive impact on older seniors.
Scientists recruited 24 adults aged 91–96 and divided them into a nonexercise control group and a “multicomponent” exercise group. The primary focus was to learn how exercise would impact “muscle power output, muscle mass, and muscle tissue attenuation; the risk of falls; and functional outcomes in frail nonagenarians.”
What do you think of when you hear “senior fitness”? For some personal trainers, the term might conjure images of gentle exercises performed in a noncompetitive environment. Yet many older athletic adults are not interested in mild “senior” movement, and plenty of them can—and want to—work out pretty intensely or for long durations.
Driving isn’t a sport for most of us, yet it does require strength, motor skill, joint mobility and fast reaction time. Chances are you aren’t offering functional exercise training for “driving skills,” but if you work with a senior population, you should be.
With the Baby Boomer population aging, movement professionals have to become more prepared to meet the needs of older adults. And while it may be tempting to think seniors need less when it comes to program development, clients of advanced age actually need more.
It’s not enough to modify the intensity or safety of their fitness programs. It’s also essential to understand how the mindset that older clients bring to a session—in this case a fear of falling—can influence their exercise needs.
Suspension exercise (SE) is a popular way to get fit for many people, and it’s no secret as to why. This method of exercise, where an apparatus attached to a single overhead anchor point supports the hands or feet, offers numerous benefits. Due to its popularity and the results people see from performing SE, programming has evolved to a point where fitness professionals are introducing it to their older-adult clients in the 65–80 and older age range.
PERMA-based fitness training can pack a positive punch for IDEA fitness professionals looking to contribute to the well-being of our fast-growing population of active older adults.
What Is PERMA?
PERMA is devoted to developing social and mental strength, which can be very helpful in motivating older exercisers. The acronym was coined by Martin Seligman, considered the father of modern positive psychology, in Flourish:
Exercise early in life—benefit later in life. That’s what researchers from Ball State University’s Human Performance Laboratory, in Indiana, concluded in a study published recently in the Journal of Applied Physiology (2013; 114 , 3–10).
Scientists looked at “whole body aerobic capacity and myocellular markers of oxidative metabolism in lifelong endurance athletes and age-matched healthy, untrained men.”