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.
Want to help your pre- or borderline hypertensive clients improve their health? Tell them to take a swim. Regular swimming is a popular form of exercise for people seeking low-impact options. Researchers now suggest that it may also help reduce blood pressure and improve vascular function among older adults. In a study published in The American Journal of Cardiology (doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2011.11.029), 43 adults with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension who were not using medication were separated into a swim group and a gentle relaxation exercise group for 12 weeks.
Video games may be primarily the domain of the younger set, but scientists are suggesting that older adults go virtual to help preserve brain function. Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2012; 42 , 109–19), a recent study of 102 participants aged 55 and above, found that exergaming may be more effective than traditional exercise at improving cognitive function. The participants were separated into two groups: a cybercycle group and a recumbent cycle control.
While B.K.S. Iyengar may still be teaching at 93, Guinness World Records has awarded the distinction of “oldest yoga instructor’ to Bernice Bates, a 91-year-old who instructs yoga at the Mainlands Retirement Community Center in Pinellas Park, Florida. Bates has been practicing and teaching hatha yoga since about 1960, according to Today.com. She currently offers a once-weekly hourlong yoga class that includes 10–12 poses and ends with relaxation. Personally, she practices several postures before getting out of bed every morning.