Exercise physiologist Chantal Brodrick with senior client Jo Hill.
Exercise physiologist Chantal Brodrick with senior client Jo Hill.

Make a start towards fit and fabulous

THE messages from the health and fitness sectors about getting moving and staying active for a much better quality of life is getting through to baby boomers.

And there is an increasing number of accredited physical trainers qualified in working with seniors.

Fitness Australia- commissioned research has revealed baby boomers are doing far more physical activity over a year than any of the younger generations.

Fitness Australia spokeswoman Chantal Brodrick said at the top of the list of activities were walking and gardening.

"From the research, we are also seeing they are doing group fitness classes and strength training," she said.

"We know that strength training can really help osteoporosis; it helps strengthen our bones."

Ms Brodrick said baby boomers had come to understand the importance of moving more often to help prevent chronic health conditions and alleviate existing health issues.

"As soon as you start being active, you feel better for doing it," Ms Brodrick said.

Jo Hill, 73, and her husband Philip, 70, wanted to stay fit as they aged.

Jo has been active all her life, particularly as she man­ag­ed the physical require­ments of her severely disabled son.

"I am exercising three times a week," Jo said. She does a cycling class, walking, rowing and free weights.

Since her husband retired five years ago, he has joined Jo in the gym, but he does the exercises that suit him.

"We will keep doing this as long as we can," Jo said.

"We won't stop until we have to; it's just part of our life.

"We feel so much better.

"We have compared ourselves to friends of the same age that walk far too slowly for us.

"It's a mindset as you get older that people think older. We try not to do that."

Before you start a fitness activity or introduce strength training to your activities, Ms Brodrick says it's vital you seek guidance from a qualified trainer.

The best place to find a registered trainer who is working near you and is qualified to work with older adults is to go to Find a Personal Trainer on fitnessaustralia.com.au.

"This is important because you need to know you are in safe hands," Ms Brodrick said.

"You need to know that if you are starting an exercise routine that you are working with someone who under­stands your body and goals, and why it is that you want to become more active."

For those baby boomers who haven't got moving yet, Ms Brodrick has some motivational tips:

• If you plan your activity with friends, you are less likely to give it up and maybe they won't either, since both of you will be relying on each other for motivation and company.

• It will be much more fun if you do an activity you really enjoy. It's likely to feel less like a chore.

• Find a trainer so both of you can work on a program and towards your goals.

• If you are worried about the cost of a trainer, look for ones that offer small-group training or gym classes.

• Know why you want and need to get moving. Is it health, maintaining inde­pend­ence, to meet new people, try something new or a mix of all of the above?

• Check with your GP on what activities you are capable of doing safely.

• It's important to start at a manageable level and gradually build up.

• Doing activities that require you to move in all directions - such as yoga, dance, tai chi and even simple at-home moves like single-leg balancing - help hone your balance, in turn reducing the risk of falls and fractures.

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