VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The demographic of aging adults combined with the urgent need to control health care costs is fueling demand for walking trails, wellness and fitness centers and activity programs, according to research reported in "Active Aging in America, Residential and Commercial Fitness."

The active aging industry refers to builders and housing, government and social services, private fitness businesses and equipment manufacturers, said Colin Milner, CEO of International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), which published the report.

"These organizations are united by their need to find, serve and retain their older clients," he said.

Today, there are an estimated 77 million baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964) and more than 36 million people ages 65 and older. Older adults control the most wealth in the United States, and the baby boomers alone account for over $2 trillion in consumer spending each year. The aging population is a significant demographic with buying power.

Older adults dealing with chronic disease also impact health care spending. People over 65 accounts for one-third of the $300 billion health care expenditures in the United States, an amount expected to increase 25 percent by 2030 unless health promotion activities are successful. Since physical activity, healthy eating and a positive outlook are well-documented ways to improve health and quality of life, governments and private businesses are prioritizing physical fitness and wellness initiatives.

"Companies that do a good job of servicing the older adult are in the growth phase because there is a market for quality services," said Milner "In health clubs, adults 55+ are the fastest growing membership segment. The newest lines of equipment feature easier access and simpler displays to appeal to older adults. The data in the report shows these are all growth areas. The only segment of the industry that is not growing is skilled nursing facilities."