Senior Fitness Market Extremely Lucrative

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The Senior Fitness Market continues to be an extremely lucrative market for IFPA Certified Personal Fitness Trainers. The IFPA has developed numerous Certifications and Continuing Education Credit (CEC) Courses to help all fitness professionals gain the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to conduct safe and effective fitness programs for this special population group. While many seniors are still able to compete in sports and perform with extremely high fitness levels, it is very unfortunate how many seniors have lost the basic functionality to perform even the simplest activities for daily living (ADLs). It is very unfortunate to see a frail elderly man in his 70s unable to perform the simple ADLs of dressing, bathing, grooming or feeding himself, especially in light of a fitness pioneer like Jack LaLanne, who will be 94 in September of 2008, still capable of performing extraordinary fitness feats that exceed the capabilities of many men less than half his age. Undeniably, we will lose some physical capabilities as we age. But ask yourself: Do we lose our fitness because we age, or do we age because we lose our fitness? In 1990 Dr. Fiatarone and colleagues noted strength gains of 174% after just 8 weeks of high-intensity resistance training in frail, institutionalized persons averaging 90 years of age. They demonstrated that high-resistance weight training promoted gains in muscle strength, size and functional mobility in persons up to 96 years of age. This is powerful evidence to support the opinions of many fitness experts that with proper lifestyle choices, most of us have the potential to maintain productive lifestyles well into our later years. The alternative is dire. Inactive individuals lose 5 pounds of muscle, which results in a 5 – 7% reduction in metabolic rate per decade after the age of 30. A 65 year old with a history of inactivity will have 20 pounds less muscle and 20 pounds more fat. Skeletal muscle atrophy can result in a 25 – 40% decrease in function. Flexibility progressively decreases throughout adulthood. On average, men lose 10 – 15% of their bone calcium by age 70 and 20% by age 80. Women lose 1% of their bone calcium per year after age 35 and bone loss increases rapidly the 5 years following menopause, creating structural integrity problems and leading to osteoporosis and increasing falls and fractures. No matter what age, research demonstrates that strength training increases at the same rate. The benefits of exercise and resistance training are impressive: lower blood pressure, decrease risk for heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, increased cardiovascular efficiency, improved muscle tone and self-esteem, improved lung capacity, body image, immune system efficiency, flexibility, balance, coordination, agility, stability, mood state and sex life, lowers body fat, increases metabolism, energy levels, mobility, autonomy, independence and longevity. Exercise is the closest thing we have to a Fountain of Youth, and the trainers that have the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to conduct safe and effective training programs with seniors hold the key to that “Fountain.” Best regards, Dr. Jim Bell, CEO IFPA

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