With the Baby Boomers hitting their stride, it’s time for them to also hit the gym. Sessions with a personal trainer can prevent common aging issues.
Meet Roger Pries- Early 30s, uber fit, with hairy legs, tatt-free arms, and an engaging manner. Roger is a personal trainer, and you might think cute young things would be lining up to book a session with this catch-of-the-week. You would be wrong. With a degree in kinesiology and a passion for getting clients past their perceived limitations, Roger is a late-boomers’ dream come true. His bookings are predominantly 50 plus, every one a fan of the knowledge their trainer brings to the process of getting fit when you are older than dirt.
Helping an Aging Population Make the Most of Exercise and Workouts
Walking at a nice clip, nearly four miles an hour, she was was moving the belt on the tread mill fast and efficiently. She greeted the young man in the gym’s uniform t-shirt with a friendly grin. “Hey, what do you think? I’m on my way to three miles.” He smiled back, but the full force of his grin was missing. “I’m wondering,” he looked from her hands on the catch bar, then back up to her face, “‘Why do you hold on?” Her mouth opened as she glanced down and saw the tight grip that had drawn his attention. “Uh, I don’t know. I just do. It’s a machine. I guess I’m afraid of falling.” “Yeah,” he nodded , “I get it. When you are ready, try going slower and not holding on. Moving your arms with your legs will give you a far better work out and aid your core balance.”
That is one of the issues facing the middle-aged and the aging elderly, the accommodations they make during exercise or physical activity that actually throw the their body out of balance. And balance is one of the critical keys to a healthy, functioning frame. Strength is another. Both can be improved over time, often with the assistance of a personal trainer or other trained professional and a process called prehabilitation, providing necessary treatment before catastrophes occur or problems develop.
Baby Boomers and Seniors Court Debilitating Falls
Falls, that’s the name of the game in any orthopedic department that serves the middle aged and the elderly. One third of all persons over the age of 65 will have a fall this year, and far too many of the victims will be returnees to the ER, Ortho, and physical therapy departments. If only 10% of those incidents of “de-elevation” are serious, the numbers are still staggering (You should pardon the pun.). Just as every boomer is worried about his or her parents and their health and fitness, so too is every 40 year old beginning to scan the parental horizon for signs of weakness, unsteadiness, and dementia.
The research shows that the use of multiple medications, plus imperfect balance, gait, or muscle fitness, along with other factors, greatly increase the risks of falls. It becomes like one of those flow charts from hell: if the person has been hospitalized, take two steps back, if the person is on antiirhythmics take two more, if the residence has stairs with no railing or a shaky railing, a shower without a grab bar, and on and on until you have stepped so far back, you’re in kindergarten. But that would be too easy. Cons ider, too, that it is not the fall itself that is of primary concern, though certainly those are to be averted. It is the complications that arise from the fall and the difficulty of recovering fully after a fall that have gerontologists, therapists, and other health care professionals most anxious.
Knowledgeable Personal Trainers Can Take Years Off Your Real Age
Sam has no knees left. No, he didn’t leave them behind in a war. They simply were casualties of large meal helpings and insufficient activity. At first he put the pain down to age, then his car seat and its broken adjuster. Finally, on a rare visit to the doctor, he learned that the cushioning cartilage that enables the knee to bend and support his hefty weight was gone, just as though it had leaked out somewhere and hadn’t been replaced. Informed that if he didn’t have surgery he would likely soon be immobile, and that he couldn’t have the surgery until he lost weight, a light bulb finally went off over Sam’s head.
Two months later, he had become a regular at Bally’s Fitness, his neighborhood gym, where a personal trainer steered him to the elliptical glider rather than the tread mill, and worked with him to build muscle in his butt, back, and all around the knee to support its feeble efforts. Able to walk farther and faster over time, though still with some pain, Sam used the money he saved by not eating out to pay for his trainer, and he lost weight while doing so. When any of his friends or family commented on his progress, they got a lift by lift, step by step rundown of his work outs.
In his book Muscle Medicine, Dr. Rob DeStefano recounts how some patients exercise one set of muscles adequately but ignore a connective or collaborating set of muscles. This can lead to muscle fatigue and subsequent problems. When guided by a trained professional, middle aged and elderly participants can greatly improve their overall fitness and specific strength measures. In addition, even given the increased activity levels, the incidence of falls are almost guaranteed to drop.
Choose Gyms and Personal Trainers with Care
Most gyms, from the swank to the budget varieties, will have personal trainers on staff. Before booking a trainer, though, check out the equipment. If the equipment is in good shape, there is a greater chance that the entire organization is professional and respectable.
A personal trainer, sometimes called “muscle magicians”, needn’t be expensive if you “shop around” and negotiate the fee. Recently in California and Washington state, a well-qualified personal trainer, with a four year degree in a field related to fitness might charge between $60 and $150 per hour. Occasionally gyms will offer reduced rates for a three mont h program or contract, but just as often, if a client have a financial limit, a reputable gym will work to match it.
However it is ultimately arranged, a personal trainer will save the novice athlete money in the long run: money for medications, physicians’ co-pays, and perhaps, even a shrink. Getting strong and keeping balance have become keys to a longer, healthier life.
Originally published on Suite101.com, 2011.