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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jun. 18, 2014 6 years ago

Fitness industry sharpens focus on seniors


It is time again to share news items and research from fitness trade publications. What strikes me is that there is now so much more studied and written about seniors.

Almost 20 years ago, I first got certified as a personal trainer. It was the time when baby boomers were starting to turn 50, and I was motivated in part by the conviction the aging population would offer opportunities for trainers well out of their 20s. The fitness industry now fully recognizes the importance of this market and is pursuing ways to better serve it. Here are recent highlights:

Longer live the lifters
Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, found a new link between lifting weights and longevity. They examined all-cause mortality rates among 3,569 participants who originally completed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III between 1988 and 1994 at ages 55 and over for men and 65 and over for women, including a measurement of skeletal muscle mass. Researchers discovered total mortality was significantly lower for subjects in the fourth quartile of muscle mass index than for those in the first quartile.

Don’t skip your workout
A good workout alleviates stress, but the 2013 Stress in America survey indicates that as many as 39% of Americans skipped exercise or physical activity when they felt stressed. The good news is, 53% of adults who exercise say they feel good about themselves afterward, 35% say it puts them in a good mood, and 32% say they feel less stressed. The implication is clear: Don’t take your stress to the sofa or screen. Take it to the gym.

Isometrics for your health
Isometric exercise (essentially contracting muscles and holding still) can help reduce and manage blood pressure — so says a review of various trials focused on adults who completed isometric protocols for at least four weeks. Participants improved blood pressure and mean arterial pressure and experienced a minor reduction in resting heart rates.

Just for fun
The American College of Sports Medicine annually ranks the 50 largest metropolitan areas of America’s most (and least) fit cities. The four Florida markets included all fall in the bottom half: Orlando/Kissimmee/Sanford, No. 34; Jacksonville, No. 37; Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, No. 40; Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Pompano Beach, No. 42.

You’re never too old to start
From Spain comes a remarkable study of nonagenarians. Scientists recruited 24 adults ages 91 to 96 and divided them into exercise and non-exercise groups. The exercise group trained twice weekly for 12 weeks, and by the end of the study improved on all counts. The study concluded that strength, power, balance and gait training should be recommended to older seniors to improve health and reduce injury risk.

Molly Schechter is an ACE-certified personal trainer since 1996. She has a specialty certification in older-adult fitness plus YogaFit Instructor Training, SCF Yoga Fundamentals I and II and Power Pilates™ Mat Certifications. She teaches classes at Bayfront Park Recreation Center and the Longboat Key Club. Email her at [email protected].


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