Seniors Get a New Reason to Hit the Gym

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Research has long supported the idea that exercise has extensive benefits, but two new studies show that physical activity is particularly important for one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population—adults over the age of 65.

One study showed that women 65 or older who briskly walked for 30 or more minutes a day were cognitively four to six years younger than those who got little or no exercise. Cognitive decline frequently precedes dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

In another study, men and women 70 to 79 years old drank chemically altered water, and researchers calculated how active the participants were based on how the chemicals broke down in their bodies. The results showed that the group that used the most energy over the course of the tests had a 90 percent lower risk of experiencing cognitive decline than those who were inactive.

So what does this mean for the health club industry? Exercise can have a tremendous impact on the health of older adults, and over the next decade, more and more Baby Boomers will be turning into seniors, creating a need for programming and an opportunity to increase revenue. But the staggering number of Baby Boomers paired with a struggling economy that might force them to work years past retirement age could make developing and scheduling programs for seniors challenging.

How does your facility cater to older adults? Do you plan on adding new programs in the next few years to accommodate aging Baby Boomers?

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