ith 13 percent of the U.S.
population celebrating their
65th year and beyond, it is no
surprise that fitness clubs and
personal trainers are working
more with seniors.

Exercise has proven helpful in combating the decline in flexibility, muscle mass, strength and
aerobic capacity found in advanced aging (Holloszy 1994). To that end, exercise also reduces the risk
factors for heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood
pressure and type 2 diabetes (Evans 1996). The
combination of physical activity and a nutrient-rich diet has been shown to defend against what one expert calls the “dwindles” (Sizer & Whitney 2000). The dwindles is a compilation of degenerative issues, including weight loss, diminished mental function, decreased physical function, social withdrawal and malnutrition.

The good news is that physical activity and nutrition may be a potent protector against the progressive decline we think of as aging. Many seniors are getting this message and initiating exercise programs to strengthen the quality of their golden years.

Fortunately, many mature adults have the assistance of personal trainers to guide them through their workouts and will look to them for help with nutrition as well. Nutrition habits and needs may change through the aging process and can be confounded by progressive alterations. The purpose of this article is to help the personal trainer:

The article will also provide helpful hints for meal planning and eating around a workout, snack ideas,
a sample menu, and tools for body composition assessment for the exercising senior.

Note: For personal trainers, this article serves as an informational source. When working with clients, trainers must consider their professional scope of practice and refer individuals to nutrition experts when appropriate. ‘

IDEA PERSONAL Trainer April 2002