In a 2012 TED Talk titled “Why bodybuilding at age 93 is a Great Idea”, speaker Charles Eugster spoke at length about the benefits of exercise among the aged and how it is never too late to begin a fitness journey. “Successful aging requires work, diet and exercise,” Charles said. “The huge mental and physical potential of the aged remains unexplored. Bodies can now be rebuilt at any age and a new life started. Beauty kings and queens in the 80-year-old category or a beach body at the age of 94 are not impossible. We will all, regardless of age, have to take greater responsibility for our own health in order to confront the immense challenges confronting the human race.”
Inactivity is a Killer.
Doctors and researchers have said for decades that inactivity is a major health risk, especially among older populations. As we age, our ability to maintain muscle mass declines and, coupled with inactivity, paves the way for a variety of health problems. This is due to a well-known phenomena called the use-disuse principle. In short, the use-disuse principle says that we lose what we do not use because the body is on a constant quest to conserve energy. Inactivity, therefore, has the potential to wreak havoc on our bodies by allowing certain essential systems, such as muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness, to waste away. The result is chronic illness.
The Key is to Get Moving.
What, then, to do about physical fitness? For those who know little about fitness and exercise, hiring an in-home personal trainer is an excellent way to start. In-home trainers travel to meet clients in their homes, are trained to handle certain health conditions, and will customize a training plan for each client’s individual needs. Depending on their level of certification, some personal trainers can also recommend dietary changes, as well as create meal plans that take certain health conditions into consideration. What is important is to get moving, and a personal trainer’s job is to motivate you to do so.
Talk to Your Doctor.
The first step in any fitness journey is to get the OK from your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough for exercise. A doctor will also determine if personal training is appropriate, or if your medical history warrants a physical therapist instead. Doctors are also a great referral source, and they may have a few names of personal trainers on hand to whom they refer patients. Therefore, the best place to start looking for an in-home personal trainer is at the doctor’s office.
What to Look For in an In-Home Personal Trainer.
Consider your own preferences. Would you be more comfortable with a male or a female trainer? Would you be more comfortable with someone who is younger or older? Asking these questions up front will help to rule out a significant number of personal trainers who do not fit your needs. It is also important to find someone who does in-home training. Most trainers work at or for gyms, and most prefer not to train at clients’ homes for liability reasons.
Once you have narrowed the field to two or three trainers, it is important to check their certifications. Not all personal trainers are created equal, so be diligent and check their credentials. Make sure they are certified by an accredited institution like the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) or the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA). The best trainers typically have a four-year degree in sports medicine or a related field, so ask about their education history, as well. Most importantly, make sure they have proper insurance. Exercise can be hazardous, and personal trainer insurance can cover some damages caused by accidents. Lastly, obtain no fewer than three client references and make sure the personal trainer in question has worked with older clients in the past.
Coordinate With Your In-Home Care Provider.
Some seniors may feel anxious inviting a stranger into their home for the first time. A great way to assuage this angst is to coordinate with your in-home care provider so that your regular caregiver is present for the initial consultation. Having multiple people present is a great way to make you feel safe until you have built a rapport and trust with the personal trainer. Your home care provider can also help you vet the personal trainers, if you ask them to do so. Home care providers are there to help, so keep them informed about what you are planning.
The Benefits Outweigh the Risks.
The risks posed by inactivity, such as muscle wasting, weakness, risk of fall, increased risk of vascular disease, among many others, are an ever-looming threat to seniors. Staying at home is no help, either, because it encourages sedentary behavior. It is much easier to sit and watch television than to exercise. Therefore, it is essential that physical activity be incorporated as part of a senior’s daily routine, and an in-home personal trainer is a great way to get moving to improve your overall health.
Author Bio: Christophe Adrien, also known as The Viking Trainer, is a Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT) and Certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition (SFN) with a Master’s Degree from Oregon State University. He is a lifelong health and fitness enthusiast who regularly contributes to publications such as caring.com, SeniorHomes.com, 1-800-HOMECARE™ and 1-800-HOSPICE™, and Home Care Magazine.