"Muscle mass losses increase by up to 40% after the age of 60," Atkinson said. "It is no longer inevitable once thought. We age because we become inactive, we don't become inactive naturally."
"One out of three older adults will fall. Half of them will fall again within the next 12 months," said Atkinson. Bone density losses at a rate of up to 10% a decade and higher for women during menopause mean falls could be detrimental.
Forty-percent of falls by older adults can be avoided with strength training programs that maintain muscle, agility, reaction skills and ultimately confidence. Abundant research in the past five to 10 years has helped professionals plan best strategies for programs that are safe and effective.
The first eight week Active Aging session begins this week and will feature a pre and post physical and self-report survey by participants. Results of improvements will be shared with the group as well as delivered at the International Council of Active Aging as Atkinson presents this November.
Self-reports of sleep, stress, memory, and mood will be assessed. Strength, balance and function physical assessments will be administered week one and week eight. The twice a week exercise program will feature machine exercises, functional exercises to assist daily activity of living and balance exercise.
The comprehensive program aims to support all aspects of older adults exercise success. The program will include discussions on nutritional evidence for older adults during exercise to optimize muscle protein synthesis. Cardiovascular exercise will not be performed during the weekly sessions but will be recommended on an individual needs basis.
Author of Navigating Fitness After 50: Your GPS For Programs and Professionals You Can Trust, Atkinson has been working with older adults throughout her 30-year fitness career. She recognizes the challenges older adults have in locating a program that provides both adequate stimulus and safe exercise.
"The first three little words out of an older adult's mouth are often don't hurt me," Atkinson said. "Our goal is to take a small group of older adults and enhance their comfort and confidence so that by the end of eight weeks not only do they experience results but they have started a new habit they can maintain for the rest of their long active lives."
Participants in the eight week program need not be members of Rallysport to apply. Active older adults don't need any prior experience with strength training but should check with their doctor before beginning a resistance training program. Knowledge of medications that could affect balance should be included in the health history information.
Debra Atkinson, MS, CSCS has been a fitness professional, speaker and university lecturer during her 30-year fitness career. As a Senior Lecturer in Kinesiology at Iowa State University she taught physiology and fitness management to future fitness professionals. She is a wellness coach and fitness business consultant for personal trainers who want to grow their business with smart programming and marketing tools. Learn more at www.voiceforfitness.com or www.rallysportboulder.com