Exercise for older adults is one of the hottest specialties in fitness today. How do you assess function levels and develop safe, challenging programs? We asked instructors to tell us about their strategies for senior clients.newsletter_teaser: Exercise for older adults is one of the hottest specialties in fitness today. How do you assess function levels and develop safe, challenging programs? We asked instructors to tell us about their strategies for senior clients.
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.
However, older adult fitness levels and abilities vary just like their younger counterparts.
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.
Your older clients are no doubt interested in complementing a fit body with a fit mind. Well, new study evidence suggests they can slow cognitive impairment by playing a few hours of “brain fit” video games designed to speed up and improve mental processing.
As the human brain ages, its executive function skills—which include perception, attention, memory, abstract thinking and problem solving—tend to diminish. Since many of us are living longer lives, scientists are motivated to identify ways to prevent this loss.
The U.S. population is aging, which makes now the perfect time for fitness professionals to learn more about training older adults. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2050, one in every five Americans will be considered a senior. The U.S. Census Bureau also predicts that between now and 2030, the 65 and older population will grow an average of 2.8% annually.
Training older adults is very gratifying. They tend to be highly motivated and goal oriented. My clients in their 70s, 80s and 90s have often been told to exercise by their physicians. For these clients, the goal in training is, above all, to be healthy. Beyond that, they want to maintain their quality of life and independent living status.
Senior exercisers learn differently than younger ones do. They also process information differently from younger exercisers, and they react differently to the same information. This means trainers need to know
whether to give feedback, and how to give it;
when to give feedback—whether during a movement or once it’s completed; and
what exactly to focus on and what to say.
Giving effective verbal feedback during exercise—knowing what to say and when to say it—is essential to the fitness success of older clients.
When comparing physical activity levels of younger people to those of older people, it’s often assumed that the younger group wins out. This belief turns out to be incorrect, at least according to a recent survey by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)—a research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare company headquartered in London.
People invest a lot of money in the search for eternal youth. But one of the most effective, inexpensive and pain-free ways to look and feel younger is to exercise and perform daily stretches that ward off kyphosis (rounding of the thoracic spine, resulting in a hunched shape); that keep the spine mobile; that lengthen the quadriceps to help sustain a tall, lifted posture; and that maintain a healthy range of motion in the hips.