Harry King is a certified fitness trainer at Planet Fitness. He’s also 80. Living proof that fitness is for all ages, Harry answers some questions about the benefits of starting a fitness program.
Images courtesy of Planet Fitness
Why has there been a resurgence of fitness programs tailored specifically for seniors?
In Canada, baby boomers (ages 57-75) make up about 24.9 percent of the country’s 40 million population. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the critical role of preventative health care, with doctors reinforcing the health benefits of regular exercise among seniors. This group is also often encouraged by friends and family to embrace a healthy, aging lifestyle.
Novice or not, the inclusive and Judgement Free environment at Planet Fitness can play a significant role in keeping motivation up. Our philosophy is to meet people where they are in their fitness journey and help keep the positive energy in and out of the gym.
What prompted this resurgence?
People are living longer, and while that’s great news, it also means health care is going to have to change to accommodate an older population. As the baby boomer generation continues to grow, businesses want to meet the needs and interests of this expanding and influential group.
Why does functional fitness training matter for older adults?
As you get older, you often lose muscle and your bones become more brittle. This can make you more prone to balance problems and falls often leading to fractures and injuries. A distinguishing benefit of functional training is its ability to boost balance and stability, making you less susceptible to injuries. It allows people to progress at their own pace, which is important for those who might have a later start to fitness or who have different needs due to aging.
How does it benefit them?
It helps seniors in several ways. Functional fitness training helps improve bone density, cardio endurance and muscle strength. Apart from its ability to boost balance and stability, functional fitness also improves blood circulation and oxygen delivery to muscles and reduces inflammation throughout the body.
Every time I visit the doctor, one of the first questions they ask is if I have had any falls in the last month, given my age of 80. The biggest benefit is that functional fitness enables you to comfortably engage in everyday activities and enjoy interactive, active play with the grandkids.
Why is active aging so important?
The goal for many, including myself, is certainly to improve the quality of life in this stage of life. We’re living longer, but I think it’s important to live fuller lives too, at any age. Personally, I want to stay active and enjoy life to the fullest until my last breath. Starting or staying on a fitness journey during this time helps to stay healthy and independent.
How can fitness programs be transformative in the lives of older adults?
Being active can help you move better, feel more energetic, and have better balance. This means you can enjoy your senior years more. I’ve experienced this myself; thanks to working out and training others, I’ve done some amazing things like kayaking long distances, going on tough hikes and even earning a high-ranking belt in karate. One of my proudest moments was becoming a certified fitness trainer at Planet Fitness and setting an example for many aspiring seniors like me.
What should older adults consider before choosing and starting a fitness program?
Before selecting and starting a fitness program, you should establish clear fitness goals as your top priority. These goals should be personalized and aligned with your individual health needs and aspirations. It’s also essential to consider your current fitness level and any existing medical conditions and also to consult with a healthcare professional or fitness expert to ensure that it is safe and suitable for your specific circumstances.
Do you have some expert insights and resources you are willing to share with our readers in order to motivate and guide them on their fitness journey?
-Set clear and achievable fitness goals, establishing timelines.
-Make sure the goals are reasonable and achievable.
-Have a clear reason and motivation for pursuing those goals.
-Engage a certified fitness trainer to refine your technique and ensure your workouts align with your objectives.
-Find a place and/or a community where you feel welcomed and encouraged, no matter where you are in your fitness journey.
This combination of goal setting and professional guidance can significantly enhance your fitness journey’s effectiveness.