There can be no argument when it comes to discussing the benefits of exercise for adults, especially seniors. Put simply, its a must. A National Bioethics Committee in Iceland study indicated that older adults who follow a fitness regimen are more likely to remain independent (and out of institutions, like hospitals and personal-care facilities) and enjoy a better quality of life.
Aside from the well-worn phrase if you dont use it, youll lose it, adherence to an exercise plan can, in many ways, make just about every physical activity a little easier for older adults.
If you want your body to function well and be able to perform the fundamental movements that we were designed to be able to do like walking and carrying things, sitting up and sitting down and getting up and picking things up off the floor we need to (exercise), says Fred Muzenmaier, director of the Athens Orthopedic Clinics Sports Performance And Rehabilitation Center (SPARC) on Old West Broad Street in Athens. Otherwise well lose the ability to do those things effectively and safely.
Munzenmaier, a fullback who lettered for the Georgia Bulldogs in 2008, 2009 and 2010, adds that seniors need not set ambitious or impossible fitness goals, like lifting great amounts of weight or running marathons. Just getting up and about and taking on safe and effective exercises represents an excellent program, and for many, a great first step.
We hope for everybody that through an exercise program, that they do get stronger, that they improve the quality of fundamental movement, that they improve their cardiovascular health, and that they improve their body composition from fat mass to lean tissue, he says.
However, a do-it-yourself program might not be a good route for most older adults. At the very least, an individual should consult with their physician on an exercise routine, and other choices include joining a gym or fitness center.
And once engaged with a fitness facility, seniors have other options they can take part in large classes, small-group sessions or one-on-one workouts with a trained professional.
Munzenmaier points out that in a large setting, statistics show that about 80 percent of those participating have their fitness requirements satisfied, leaving some 20 percent that need adjustments made for their needs. This is perhaps the biggest reason he believes hiring a personal trainer is an invaluable decision.
With private training, youve got the advantage of having somebody who is evaluating you on an individual basis and customizing their approach to specifically meet your goals and needs, based on what they see from a professional standpoint, he says. That increases your safety and increases the effectiveness of your program to meet you where you are physically and move forward.
Munzenmaier adds that while having a personal trainer is the most costly option afforded to seniors and anyone else seeking to get in better shape, it has also proven to be the most effective choice, as those who contract with a professional tend to stick with the program the longest and tend to be more consistent in attending their sessions.
The relational aspect is really powerful, he says. Its priceless to have an advocate there for you all the time. Thats a benefit you get through private training.
In addition to setting a safe and professional environment, a personal trainer knows just the right amount of encouragement to provide.
When you get the chance to listen to somebody one on one, its easier to pick up on what they need individually and to really know them on a more personal level, says Munzenmaier. Everybody has different personality and some people need accountability, they need words of encouragement and affirmation to get the best out of them.
It just goes back to the individual level of attention youre getting, and if you find a trainer whos really good at what they do, theyre able to understand you on a personal level and understand what motivation looks like being a loud cheerleader or being that quiet voice of confidence behind thats pushing you to do what you thought you couldnt do before.
Munzenmaier says that no matter what path an older adult takes, the best path is one that keeps you moving.
Our main goal is to prevent sedentary lifestyles, he says. Once we create good habits with people, then we go to maximize your quality of life. Thats the common thread we have at SPARC -- were here to give people the best quality of life possible.
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