• Pauline Cound

Active Ageing - a personal trainers perspective

Staying active is important at every stage of life, particularly as individuals’ age. Regular exercise can help prevent metabolic issues and certain forms of cancer, reduce pain, and improve health components, skills, and activities of daily living. In addition to physical health, exercise has been proven to benefit mental and emotional health. Mature adults typically have a different set of needs, interests and desires than their younger counterparts and are often misunderstood Aging is a natural and inevitable part of the life cycle. All living beings experience a period of growth and maturation followed by a period of decline, which is often accompanied by disease, and which culminates eventually in death. Although the aging process is hard-wired into our systems and cannot be stopped this doesn’t mean that we are completely at its mercy. On the contrary, individuals can significantly, and sometimes dramatically, influence how quickly or how well they age. The concept of active aging has been proposed to promote the benefits of an active lifestyle for increasing longevity and quality of life. Active aging recognizes the importance of active engagement in life in multiple dimensions of wellness such as physical, emotional, social, spiritual and mental. It is important for fitness professionals that work with older adults to integrate these multiple dimensions of wellness into their programs.

The ability to coordinate muscular activity into functional movements also declines in old age. Declines may contribute to poor balance and increased risk of falling. It is said that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” but research regarding motor learning with older adults shows that this is not true. Older adults can improve existing skill performance and learn new skills although they may learn them at a slower rate than younger adults and the way they learn a new skill may be different. In general, they tend to adopt different muscle activation patterns and movement strategies to accomplish the new task to compensate for physical losses. The loss of skeletal muscle is accompanied by an increase in fat mass. The data is not clear on how much fat is typically gained throughout middle adulthood but fat mass appears to stabilize in the 6th decade. Changes in body fat distribution have been more clearly documented with older adults experiencing an increase in intra-abdominal fat accompanied by a decrease in subcutaneous fat on the limbs. Abdominal obesity increases risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These changes are due to a combination of factors including genetics, physical activity levels, dietary habits and hormonal changes. Both aerobic and resistance exercise training have been shown effective in reducing fat mass in older adults. Exercise has been consistently found to positively affect impairment-level factors such as muscle strength, muscle power, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, flexibility, joint range of motion and balance.

It is important that your personal trainer has the required certification and insurance. As an AFLCA certified trainer I have AFLCA specialization In Older Adults and FAI certification as a Functional Ageing Specialist. The AFLCA certification provides liability insurance.

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