Active older adults know that exercise helps improve their mood, prevent falls, and improve their functional skills. Here are five tips the group trainer can use to get their active older adults excited about attending class week after week.
Create classes specifically for active older adults
It is known that group exercise courses have a higher participation rate than individual exercise programs. However, participation rates continue to rise when active older adults take classes specifically tailored for their age group. Research has shown that older adults exercise more when they can exercise with people of similar ages, as opposed to exercise programs made up of both younger and older populations. Active older adults report feeling less familiar exercising with their peers who share similar life experiences and goals rather than trying to keep up with younger participants.
Social hour or training time?
If you work with active older adults, instead of working on their fitness, you may spend some time in class connecting with their neighbors. This can be especially frustrating for instructors who prefer a consistent order in their classes and interfere with other class members. We would prefer training time to exceed social time. Note, however, that for many older adults, this may be the only face-to-face interaction during the day. Regular socialization helps reduce your risk of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and isolation. Working out in groups provides not only physical benefits, but also mental stimulation and a much-needed social support network for older adults. It is much easier to give up physical activity when you are the only person doing it. However, when you create a community within your group class, your members have others to hold them accountable. Research has shown that regular group exercises help older adults feel socially connected and experience a sense of security in the community by caring for and supporting one another. Schedule breaks or partner work in your class and / or plan social gatherings to allow social interaction.
Educate participants about how exercise improves their ability to perform daily activities
Active older adults understand the benefits of exercise for maintaining independence, but do not always associate exercise with improving their daily activities. By teaching them about the purpose of a specific exercise like a squat during class, you can combine the movement with maintaining their ability to do daily activities like getting out of the car. This connection helps them to recognize that every exercise is linked to movement patterns that they encounter in everyday life. Maintaining independence is a key factor in training in the older adult population. So if you teach them how the exercises in each class will help achieve this goal, they will keep coming back.
Offer progressions and regressions
Older adults are a diverse group in terms of physical and cognitive skills. Some of your participants may have trained for 70 years while others have just started their training journey. Older adults are also more likely to have medical conditions that require changes to certain exercises. By offering exercise progress and regressions, your class members can choose the level that best suits them. As an instructor, you should demonstrate numerous levels of an exercise and encourage them to choose the level that is most appropriate for them. Also, you should spend the same amount of time at each level so that all participants feel included.
Pay attention to your language
Avoid using slang like “your,”
If you are interested in learning more about how to create safe and effective exercise programs for older adults, you should become an ACE Senior Fitness Specialist. The ACE Senior Fitness Specialist Program teaches you how to safely and effectively help older adults feel healthy and alive through fitness. The program takes a holistic approach to health and fitness, combining relationship building, behavior change, motivation and compliance with diet and exercise changes that make older clients more active and lead to better health.
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