Active Aging: Fitness Professionals Hold the Key
|Associate Director, Amy Rauworth|
By the year 2030, one of every five Americans, or approximately 70 million people, will be 65 years of age or older. The surge of adults living beyond 85 years of age will drastically increase within this segment of the population. As these statistics clearly show, we must develop our health and fitness services to meet the needs of older adults.
Persons with disabilities not only include those with specific, often visible, impairments such as people using wheelchairs or service animals, but will also include most of us at some point in our lives, given the natural effects of aging. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) define individuals with a disability as those who have difficulty with one or more specified functional or daily activities, use assistive aids (e.g., wheelchair, crutches, cane, or walker), and/or experience a limitation in the ability to work around the house or at a job. Although many older adults do not identify themselves as having a disability, it is clear that the CDC's definition encompasses many of the life changes that older adults experience.
Successful aging takes a tailored approach:
- A successful approach to fitness for older adults should include tailoring health promotion programs to meet individualized needs. Consider music, atmosphere, and time of day that would be best for your clients. Listen to your clients and respond to their needs.
- Disability is only one component of a person's health-related state, and although it should be taken into account when approaching the relationship, it should not be the basis upon which relationships are formed. In order to provide optimal health benefits, an approach should be based on a more appropriate delivery method, such as the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF), that provides individualized health promotion services based on abilities rather than disabilities.
- The baby boom generation will begin to turn 65 in 2009. They may expect the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities or might be searching to replace work activities with leisure. Engage your clients and encourage them to try new activities, such as dance, or outdoor recreational activities, like kayaking. Provide them with ways to incorporate physical activity into their lifestyle that also offer opportunities for socializing.
- Keep your approach client-centered. This approach allows the client to problem-solve and determine the best way to establish goals, decrease barriers, and increase adherence.
- Translate research into practice for your clients. This includes explaining the benefits of physical activity and how this may positively affect your client's functional abilities. For example, strength-training exercise may provide an older adult with the ability to climb a flight of stairs at home or to visit a loved one with greater ease.
As health and fitness professionals, we must take action now to create services and programs that can provide America's older adults with the opportunity to age successfully and enjoy a continued quality of life through the benefits of physical activity.
- National Council on Aging
- RRTC on Aging with Developmental Disabilities
- Blueprints on Aging
- First Steps to Active Health: Balance and Flexibility Exercises for Older Adults:
- Use of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) to Prepare Individualized Exercise Prescriptions for People with Disabilities: http://www.ncpad.org/407/2220/Use~of~the~International~Classification~of~Functioning~~
For comments and feedback, please feel free to contact Amy Rauworth at firstname.lastname@example.org.