Seniors can get a bad rap, people thinking that retirees are lazy or inactive, when in reality it couldn’t be farther from the truth. The National Council on Aging in conjunction with UnitedHealthcare put together a 2015 report based on a phone survey of over 1500 seniors across the U.S. The survey was comprised of “nationally representative samples of Americans 60 and older, and professionals who work closely with them, [including] staff from the Area Agencies on Aging, credit union managers, primary care physicians and pharmacists.”
The results of the survey found that 40 percent of people over the age of 60 think that maintaining their health is a top concern, which includes eating a healthy diet, exercise, getting a full night’s sleep and maintaining a positive attitude. And a majority of seniors (51%), feel that the biggest “barrier to staying mentally sharp” is inactivity.
Aside from remaining mentally active, through the use of puzzles and brain games, remaining physically active is an essential component to maintaining health as well. Luckily, there are plenty of senior fitness programs popping up across the country to meet your unique needs in a senior-friendly environment.
Fitness Programs For Seniors
In recent years, fitness certification programs have started offering more comprehensive training for personal trainers who want to work with people over the age of 55. ACE Fitness, a popular training certification program, now offers senior fitness certifications specifically designed to help personal trainers increase longevity in addition to learning how to “incorporate appropriate modifications and techniques to prevent muscle deterioration, improve bone strength, and boost quality of life.”
The National Council of Certified Personal Trainers goes so far as to offer continuing education opportunities for certified trainers to learn how to exercise for seniors into their workout routines for clients. The NCCPT feels strongly that “the role of exercise becomes crucial to ensure that [seniors] can improve and maintain functional independence, offering many opportunities for personal trainers to help enhance their well being.”
Real-Life Applications of Senior Fitness Programs
Since the trend in the personal training community seems to be following the national trend of the booming senior community, special senior fitness programs are popping up across the country. Some interesting classes or trends to look for include:
- Chair or Restorative Yoga Classes. Yoga classes are a great way to work on balance, flexibility and stress relief. Unlike more traditional yoga classes, chair yoga provides additional support and stability as you work through certain poses. And restorative yoga is a very gentle yoga series aimed at stretching using props and relaxation.
- Pickleball. Pickleball is a hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. Pickleball follows the same premise as tennis, but is played on a smaller court, like badminton, and uses racquets that look like oversized ping-pong paddles, making it easier on the joints and wrists while still getting cardiovascular benefits, proving to be an excellent exercise for seniors.
- Enhance Fitness. Enhance Fitness, and Enhance Wellness, provide “community-based health promotion programs for older adults [which is] backed by years of solid scientific research.” Enhance Fitness programs for seniors can be found in over 500 locations across the country and involve safe and encouraging fitness activities that seniors of all levels and abilities can enjoy.
- Fit and Strong. Fit and Strong is an 8-week program that “targets older adults with osteoarthritis and has demonstrated significant functional and physical activity improvements in this population.” In addition to building senior fitness programs that require a commitment at least 3 days per week, Fit and Strong also encourages “safe stretching, balance, aerobic and strengthening, exercises which gradually increase in frequency, duration, and intensity over time,” intended to help seniors maintain independence.
Exercise for Seniors and Safety
As with physical activity at any age, we always run the risk of injury when exercising. Be sure to take your Mobile Guardian with you when you attend a senior fitness class. It is small and portable, which guarantees you just as much access to help when you are outside of the house as inside.