Many people have been staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic. With gyms closed and fitness classes canceled, options for working out are much more limited. But you can’t afford to take two months off your fitness program if you want to maintain or improve your health. That’s even more important for older adults or those living with chronic medical conditions.
Dan Ritchie is president and co-founder of the Functional Aging Institute, the nation’s leading business source for gyms and studios helping people over 55. He also has his own studio, Miracles Fitness, in West Lafayette, Indiana. So, he has valuable perspective as a consultant, coach and business owner.
Dan spoke recently with me and a group of fitness professionals from around the country. Here are some thoughts he shared about how fitness for “older” people is shaping up during and after Covid-19.
As you know, more states are loosening restrictions on businesses, and gyms in some states have been allowed to reopen.
Dan says it’s important for everyone in this demographic to keep exercising on a regular basis – regardless of current regulations or guidelines in each state. So, whether you’re at home or willing and able to go to a fitness center, take charge of your fitness every day.
“Exercise is vital for functional longevity, no matter how you do it,” says Dan, who has a doctoral degree in Health & Kinesiology from Purdue University. “You can’t afford to take two months off.”
That’s why I’ve continued to provide virtual personal training sessions as well as online fitness and nutrition coaching to keep my clients moving and motivated while we’ve been under the stay at home order.
The Importance of Fitness After Age 50
The vast majority of older people don’t exercise at all – and that was true even before the coronavirus hit.
The US government and the World Health Organization say adults should get 150 minutes of moderately intense cardio exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. Also, we should all participate in resistance training at least twice a week (three times is better) to maintain strength, balance, bone health and more.
After age 50 or so, exercise becomes even more important to help maintain physical and mental health – and to maintain social bonds. During the coronavirus lockdown, it has been easy for many people to stay at home and risk not only inactivity but also isolation. That’s another reason it’s important to reach out to family and friends.
Online Fitness Coaching is Here to Stay
Online training has been a surprise hit with many people who have found it a great way to keep up with their fitness and still feel connected to someone outside of their home.
Dan also calls it “ageism” to perpetuate the myth that mature people can’t learn to use technology, like Zoom on a computer, to stay active. I definitely know that’s not true as I’ve got people from ages 55 to 94 doing virtual workouts using FaceTime or Google Duo. Several others are also logging in to the member page on my website or using my mobile app to access their online fitness programs and nutrition habits.
If it’s time to return to the gym or studio, make sure you’re satisfied about cleanliness practices. At this time it is still not clear what exact protocols will take place once gyms are open to the public again, but I expect that there will be restrictions on how many people will be able to access the facility at any given time. Some group fitness classes may restrict how many people can participate, while some equipment or classes may be out of rotation completely for a period of time.
“The consumer has to know that fitness is vitally important, but that doesn’t mean they should feel like they’re taking a risk going into a dirty gym with no clear policies,” Dan says. “So, think about what support you need to maintain a fitness regimen whether you’re at home or willing and able to return to the fitness center.”
The important thing is, this is not a time to wait it out, doing nothing. Even if you’ve been physically active, you will lose strength and stamina by taking too much time off your fitness program. Even with facilities closed, you can still exercise at home or outdoors where you have greater control of your surroundings.
You’ve got to move your body every day. I’m here to help you stay strong!
Feel free to contact me by signing up below if you’d like to set up a free consultation to discuss how I can help 😊