Statistics from the 2012 Census showed that individuals over age 65 made up around 14% of the population within the U.S., and by 2050, projections indicate that this population will grow to more than 20% of the U.S. population. As the this group continues to grow, the opportunity to offer fitness training to this unique population will also grow. Elder training offers many benefits to seniors, helping them improve their overall health and physical fitness. Here’s a closer look at the unique challenges seniors face, how training can help them, and some tips for training this group of individuals.
Common Challenges Seniors Face
As bodies grow older, it’s common for individuals to start slowing down. Unfortunately, when the elderly start slowing down, the effects of aging often grow even worse until the body stops. Along with old age, lack of physical activity is one of the main factors in body condition reduction. Some of the common challenges that seniors face as they grow older include a reduction in bone mass, reduced flexibility, increase in fat mass, and reduction in muscle mass. Aging often brings with it a reduction in both endurance and strength as well.
The Benefits of Third Age Training
The great thing about elder personal training, often referred to as third age training, is that it can help to reduce some of the common problems that come with aging. Some of the benefits of physical activity and exercise for the elderly include:
- Benefit #1 – Weight Loss or Maintenance – Aging naturally results in a slowing metabolism, but regular exercise can help increase metabolism and helps increase muscle mass, which increases calorie burn. This helps the elderly lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, improving their overall wellness.
- Benefit #2 – Enhanced Flexibility, Balance, and Mobility – A good elder training program also has the benefit of enhancing flexibility, balance, and mobility for the elderly. Exercise results in improved posture, flexibility, and strength, which helps aid in coordination and balance, helping to lower the risk of falls.
- Benefit #3 – Prevent or Delay Common Disabilities and Diseases – Staying active physically has the potential to prevent or at least delay common disabilities and diseases that occur as people age. Exercise can be instrumental in preventing or reducing the impact of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Exercise in older adults is also associated with lower blood pressure, improved digestive functioning, and improved immune function.
- Benefit #4 – Improved Brain Function – Getting involved in a good fitness training program can also help improve brain function in the elderly. Regular exercise can help to prevent dementia, memory loss, and cognitive decline. It may even help to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders.
- Benefit #5 – Better Sleep Quality – Many aging adults complain of poor sleep, and regular fitness training can help. Regular exercise as part of a good third age training program can help improve sleep, enabling seniors to sleep more deeply and fall asleep faster.
Some of the other benefits aging adults may enjoy when getting involved in a good elder training program include:
- Improved self confidence
- Stress relief
- Lower risk of anxiety and depression
- Increase in energy
- Better bone density
- Increase in cardiovascular fitness
- Lower risk for certain types of cancer
Before You Begin Elder Training with a New Trainee
Before personal trainers begin a new elder training program with an aging adult, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, it’s essential to ensure that aging adults don’t have any diseases that will prevent the individual from exercising safely. It’s a good idea to have individuals fill out a comprehensive questionnaire so you’re aware of their medical history, and you may even want to ensure that you get clearance for the program from the trainee’s physician. Good elder training programs should be tailored to the health and preferences of the aging adult to ensure that training is safe and to aid in retention.
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