It is well-known that many adults across the UK are inactive, with even 1 out of 4 avoiding exercise. Now, new research by Nuffield Health has shown that many of Britain’s over 55’s don’t see fitness as a necessary and important part of daily life.
Nuffield Health carried out a survey looking at 2,000 people aged 55 and over to see whether the benefits of exercise were known and seen as important as part of daily life.
It is well-known among the health and fitness industry that fitness is important at all stages of life when benefitting yourself as an older adult, with benefits such as lowering risk of cardiovascular disease; making it easier to carry out daily tasks; slowing the signs of ageing and even helping slow the signs of Alzheimer’s.
Although the benefits of exercise are clearly huge, 48% of those surveyed said that they didn’t see exercise as important to their daily lifestyles; whereas 52% believed that exercise and activity are beneficial to life as an older adult.
Former Wales Rugby player Jonathan Davies, who is supporting campaigns related to Older Adult fitness has said; “Maintaining bone and muscle strength as we age is critical, not only to ensure we can continue to live life to the full physically but also to maintain mental health.” The benefits of exercise on mental health are huge, which is a reason why Jones went on to say; “It’s worrying that half of us over 55’s don’t believe exercise is important.”
Throughout the study, researchers were also able to find out that 1 out of 10 people over 55 said that the main thing deterring them from exercise is the fear of injury, which could be a useful insight for those with Older Adult Fitness qualifications. Knowing that this is one of the main things deterring people from exercise may help older adult Personal Trainers to make exercise appealing to more people over 55 by showing that their sessions and both effective and safe.
With new qualifications making it easier for Personal Trainers to go beyond the gym sessions and get involved in recovery and specialist areas of fitness such as Pilates and Sports Massage, it is easier for Personal Trainers to let Older Adults know that they are safe if they train with them. Talking about injuries when assessing clients makes it possible for Personal Trainers to tailor training sessions to avoid these problems; making fitness more appealing to Older Adults.
Another interesting thing to note from the study is that almost 1 out of 5 participants believed that they should stay away from resistance training, which is completely the opposite of what experts suggest older adults do, with experts stating over 55’s should get involved with both aerobic and strength training. Fitness Lead at Nuffield Health, Stephen Macconville, has said; “The reality is that (aerobic and strength) exercise can be an important part of preventing and managing illness as well as rehabilitating after an injury.”
Macconville went on to say what many certified Personal Trainers have been trying to get across to Older Adult clients for a while; as he stated that “enlisting the help of a Personal Trainer could prove invaluable in helping to tailor a workout suitable to a person’s age, health and mobility issues.” This comes after 38% of participants said that they see Personal Training as something reserved for only younger people. This can be frustrating for Personal Trainers down to the huge benefits of Older Adults choosing a Personal Trainer.
Overall, the signs that the study show are clear, as it shows that fitness for over 55’s is nowhere near as appealing and accessible as it needs to be. Although Personal Trainers can be qualified to train Older Adult clients, they need to create more awareness around their sessions, as this will help to let more Older Adults know that fitness is important and that help keeping fit and active is there is they need it. With Older Adults clearly feeling excluded from fitness and an active lifestyle, it is our job as health and fitness professionals to make staying fit more appealing and available to Older Adults.
If you’re looking to get into older adult fitness, there are certain standards and qualifications that need to be met. Make sure that you gain an industry recognised Older Adults Fitness qualification to gain the credibility to become employed by older adult clients. Take a look at our Active IQ Level 3 in Designing Exercise Programmes for Older Adults to make the first step to getting involved with fitness for older adults.