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Keeping Our Active Aging Population Active

Older active adults working out.

When was the last time you hopped, with two feet, 6”- 10″? Or tipped until you lost balance but caught yourself? It might sound silly to those of us in the business of keeping people fit but “Use it or lose it” is a truth awaiting everyone. Losing the basic skills of balance and jumping will hasten declines in the activity and motivation of an aging person just when it’s most important to stay active.

Alternatively, encouraging our active aging population to hold onto these basic skills improves confidence. With confidence the doors open wide with potential to learn a few new exercises, attend a group exercise class or hire a trainer and stay ACTIVE, SOCIAL and most important, UPRIGHT! For the vast majority of folks in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s +, we’ll highlight a few resources to help your gym, wellness center, even boutique or indoor-cycling studio make modest changes or additions that will lend confidence to our active aging population to be more comfortable and confident, be it a group ex setting or simply with “new-fangled” equipment.

September 24-30 is Active Aging Week in the US; a perfect week to make simple modifications to help your older population be as active and confident as possible!

Here are seven simple ways to participate in Active Aging Week:

  1. Invite local retirement facilities to visit and utilize your workout space. Host small group tours, and give simple demonstrations of a few pieces of equipment, such as functional trainers, Stages Indoor Cycling stationary bikes, recumbent bikes, and how to use simple accessories like bands and balls.
  2. Select a couple of existing group exercise classes in your area or offer a couple of specially timed additional ones just for your active aging population (advertise within the member base to invite parents or neighbors).  Give these folks some sense of how a class works and how they can benefit.  Don’t forget to ask them what they’d like to include or learn. The social aspect of group exercise can be extremely motivating.
  3. Partner with a personal trainer to offer stability or simple balance assessments and recommendations based on the results.
  4. Host a free social hour, Q&A, and demonstrations, followed by a walk on the track or a loose basketball shootaround.
  5. When shoulder range of motion is limited, a child-sized basket from the children’s center will suffice.  You might be surprised at how quickly the muscle memory and range of motion will return!
  6. Toss and catch tennis balls; one hand to the other, or with another.
  7. Balloon volleyball with a child as “monkey in the middle”.
  8. Introduce your active aging population to how a few newer pieces of equipment work: Chin and Dip Machine with assistance, (not-so heavy) heavy bags, Escape Griprs, TRX equipment (squat, low row, balancing), 2” step height steps (sideways as well as up and down).

Additionally, here are 3 stellar resources to help your facility dive into the world of Active Aging:

  1. ActiveAgingWeek.com: Sept. 24-30, 2017 Now in its 14th year the ICAA (Int’l Council on Active Aging, www.ICAA.com) makes it super easy with information and special events centered around the ever-growing active adult population.
  1. WALK!  walkweithaegis.com provides details on how to participate in or host a walking participation event with hopes of keeping the golden generation as mobile and healthy as possible. “Join us in celebrating health and wellness during “WALK! with Aegis Therapies” a customizable wellness event supporting Active Aging Week. From September 25 – 30 thousands of people in facilities across the U.S. will participate in daily group-walking sessions and other fun activities designed to support all dimensions of wellness.”
  1. ACE Senior Fitness Specialist Certification: Our Senior Fitness Specialist Program is designed for health and fitness professionals who want to gain a comprehensive understanding of how the physical, emotional and social aspects of movement can help people over 55 increase longevity and boost quality of life. Instructors of adult fitness programs at colleges and community centers, as well as personal trainers, health coaches, nurses, social workers and physical therapists can all use the expertise to deliver appropriate exercise programs that combat the effects of osteoporosis, arthritis and other age-specific conditions.

According to the National Institute on Aging, our aging population will double between 2011 and 2030.  The majority of these adults will be dealing with at least one chronic health condition which can be managed or reversed with physical activity. You may choose to embrace this as an opportunity for increased membership and revenue or simply for the sake of encouraging our golden generation to live healthier, happier, more active and potentially with more independence in their later years – both worthy reasons to embrace the world of Active Aging!

Sources:

ICAA: http://www.icaa.cc/

TRX: https://www.trxtraining.com/train/trx-training-for-seniors#/

ACE: https://www.acefitness.org/fitness-certifications/specialty-certifications/senior-fitness.aspx

And personal experience by the author.

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