Fitnesss Forever


eldercare, elderly health careThere’s so much to love about working out and being physically fit. There’s so much to hate about those 24-hour fitness clubs with all those young, beautiful bodies, not to mention complicated machinery and triathlon-level workouts. No wonder Moms and Dads refuse to step inside the neighborhood gym. They can’t relate. According to International Health only twenty-five percent of all health club members are 55 years of age.

Now there’s an alternative for older adults.  Fitness clubs for people fifty and over are sprouting up all over the county. No loud music or spandex. Single’s juice bars are nowhere in sight. The fitness experts at these over-50 gyms have thought of everything to keep the older body (and mind) ticking – yoga, tai chi, strength training, and brain fitness exercises with memory-enhancing computer games. Some clubs even offer driving simulation courses. Workouts are geared for people who are not only out of shape but also suffer from joint problems and other common ailments. There’s nutrition counseling, too.

One way to get parents used to the idea of going to the gym is to suggest working out together.  This would certainly help busy caregivers who need to take time for themselves fit this important part of their health regime into an already full schedule.

Large fitness-club chains like Gold’s Gym, Bally’s and the YMCA offer The SilverSneakers Fitness Program ( After conducting a search on the Internet, I found numerous locations across the country that offer the SilverSneakers program. Best yet, SilverSneakers may be covered by your parents’ Medicare health plan.  Visit the SilverSneaker’s website to find a location near you.  Silver Sneaker’s offers social programs, healthy lifestyle assistance, and physical activity to help more mature adults take an active role in their health.

Are you a family caregiver who can’t make it to the gym? Perhaps an exercise program at home is the answer for you. The's online guide, Exercise for the Elderly offers some great tips. In it they address exercise safety, how to get started, types of exercise, when to call your doctor and even a few sample exercises to start out with. For those who might be a bit more sedentary, there are instructional chair exercise videos that can be borrowed at the local library.

The  USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 recommends that older adults should participate in regular physical activity to reduce functional declines associated with aging and to achieve the other benefits of physical activity identified for all adults.

Before anything else, however, make sure that your parents check with their doctor before pumping up.

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--Joy Loverde