Many professionals believe that the health industry is failing older people. Despite a mountain of evidence that demonstrates the massive benefits of exercise for older people, very few actually work out enough.
Research has shown us that if we are physically active and fit then we can expect to live a longer, higher quality and healthier life than our sedentary contemporaries, while 'perpetual athletes', those for whom exercise is a part of their lifestyle on a long term basis, are often two to three decades younger physically than their contemporaries. So why does the health industry fail older people, and what can be done about it?
The first step is to ensure that the fitness and health message gets across to the older population. People need to understand the benefits of regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Secondly, professionals need to understand the many barriers that stop individuals from participating in exercise. One of the biggest is uncertainty or lack of confidence about entering a gym. Gyms can be intimidating places, with many people being concerned about how they look like compared to others in the gym. This can be age related, size related, exercise experience related or indeed a combination of all three. The result is a concern that everyone is looking at them.
This can be offset by staff who are aware, friendly, and responsive to the needs of individuals. In all too many clubs and gyms, staff are either non-existent or disinterested. New clients are left to figure things out for themselves, resulting in workouts that are at best inefficient, and at worst can lead to injury.
Industry professionals need to work proactively to ensure that the message is getting across to the older population, and that gyms are staffed by trained, outgoing and motivated professionals ready to work with older clients.