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Archive for August, 2009

Fitness Programs for Older Adults

Friday, August 21st, 2009

For a personal trainer, there are so many different ways to modify exercises for the older adult in order to accommodate their individual needs. In contrast, for a fitness instructor, with numerous participants, the challenge is a little more difficult.

A well-educated and well-trained fitness instructor will cater his or her class to suit their group.  Many older adults and seniors are flooding fitness classes to stay healthy and physically active. With this in mind, fitness instructors must make adjustments to keep their classes full and their older adult participants motivated to come back – over and over again.

Skilled and intuitive Older Adult Fitness Specialists who teach group classes will take the following measures to ensure maximum exercise effectiveness for older adults:

  • Take the time to know the individual participants by having them fill an information sheet that will give important facts about personal conditions and physical fitness
  • Make sure everyone in the class is wearing comfortable and supportive shoes
  • Stress the fact that everyone should feel comfortable working at their own pace (no pressure to keep up with others)
  • Educate the class to listen to their bodies and tell them about their possible limitations by giving tips and ideas during the cool down phase
  • Hand out pamphlets and relevant newspaper articles
  • Host an evening with experts in the field or have an afternoon of “High Tea” with a discussion session (they can all bring a treat to share)
  • Do a thorough, proper and longer warm up
  • Work through range of motion movements gradually
  • Progress slowly
  • Show modifications at all times (simpler versions of moves the class can do)
  • Use supportive devices for those that need the extra safety elements such as walls, chairs, sturdy platforms, high steps, etc.
  • Minimize all stresses on the most painful joints
  • Minimize impact movements
  • Have half of the cardio portion of the class in a seated position in chairs
  • Use other lighter items instead of weights, such as different balls, ribbons, noodles, water bottles, soup cans, packages, newspaper rolls
  • Slow down the execution of a movement, look for proper alignment, and avoid twisting actions
  • Reduce the number of repetitions
  • Lengthen the stretch phase, but be careful not to overstretch the class – make sure they understand not to stretch to the point of pain or discomfort

When you have a fitness instructor who takes these points into consideration and cares for the older adults in their classes, numbers will stay high and participants are sure to have a high quality exercise session.

Guest Article By:  Ona McDonald, Older Adult Fitness Specialist, Toronto, Ontario

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