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Diversity Among Older Adults Requires Diverse Solutions

by ICAA July 29, 2013

There were 810 million people over age 60 worldwide in 2012, according to the United Nations Population Fund. Harvard Professor Dr.David Bloom, a world-renowned demographer and economist, has revealed that every week over one million people around the world turn age 65. Yet, addressing population aging is less about the numbers of older people and more about their diversity.


A lifetime of diverse experiences, and the behaviors they have created, makes the 65-and-over age group an extremely unique segment of the population.These experiences and behaviors impact everything, from where and how people live, to their health status and quality of life. Meeting this group’s expectations and needs requires you to understand who they are. Consider, for example, their physical and cognitive abilities; health; age; work or marital status; sex; sexual orientation; race and culture, as well as whether or not they have children or grandchildren, access to transportation, and disposable income. This is why the older-adult market will challenge your creativity, strategic thinking, planning and implementation processes, and why one-size-fits-all solutions fail miserably with these individuals. To address this group, you will first need to establish this group’s wants and needs. Once you do so, think about what kinds of products or services you will create and deliver to meet the expectations of this large, diverse market.


A thought to ponder: Is the lack of diversity in your offerings limiting your success?

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Older adults

Safety in Physical Activities

by YMCA July 16, 2013

Safety is of utmost importance in the Y.  For an organization dedicated to nurturing the potential of every child and youth, improving the nation’s health and well-being, and supporting and giving back to our neighbors and community, the Y engages in many safety related programs and practices so that each person who steps foot into the Y leaves the Y a better, healthier person.

One such program Y’s actively participate in is concussion management in youth sports.  By following the CDC’s HEADS UP program, Ys are using the CDC’s youth coaches and parent HEADS UP trainings so that all adults know how to prevent concussions from happening, but also recognize symptoms and circumstances when a concussion might have occurred, and what to do about it. Along with proper protocols for making sure kids don’t continue to participate in activities should they have sustained a concussion, Ys also have recommendations (and in most states, laws to follow) that determine when and how a child suspected or diagnosed with a concussion can “return to play”.  Regardless of whether kids are active in team or individual sports, organized or “pick-up” games, inside the gym or outside on a field, safe and deliberate procedures have to be followed so that kids get regular physical activity that is safe and healthy.

A second safety oriented program found in hundreds of Ys across the country are youth and adult swim lessons.  As the summer heats up, Y swim instructors teach literally thousands of children, youth, teens and adults how to not just be safe in and around water (pools, water parks, lakes, rivers, and oceans), but also how to enjoy the water for the fitness and well-being benefits it offers.  Whether it be to swim laps, play water games, skin or scuba dive, do water exercises, or just splash around, Y swimming lessons are vital to keeping everyone safe around the water, while also creating another means for enjoyable physical activity.  We all know how hard it is to get some kids out of the water, even after hours of swimming around, playing made up games, diving, or hanging onto mom or dad’s neck.  Knowing how to swim is vital to any child or adult.  Learning how to swim can be fun, especially if done by a trained, empathic instructor, like the one’s you’ll find at the Y.

You may also find bike safety programs, lifeguard training, babysitting certifications, CPR, and First Aid trainings at your local Y.

During these summer months, get and stay active, in a safe and sensible way.  What are your summer plans for staying active?  What safety tips can you share?  Will you be indoors or outside?  Are you planning on trying something new?  Learning or perfecting a new skill?

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How Group Exercise Can Fight Cancer

by IHRSA July 10, 2013

In March 2013, IHRSA awarded Radka Dopitova Willson with the “Julie Main Woman Leader Scholarship” for her work to develop the Back To Life program for cancer patients and survivors.

At the award ceremony, Radka had a wonderful message for the fitness community:

I would like to challenge all of you in our health and fitness industry to offer a helping hand to cancer survivors. Tell them that there is life after cancer. Tell them that they’re worth it. Tell them that their scars are just signs of their resilience and strength. And, most importantly, tell them that you will support them to make sure that everything is going to be alright.

From her home base at the World Bank Group in Washington, DC, Radka offers the “Back to Life” class twice each week at no cost to World Bank Group employees.

The six-week “Back to Life” program has three goals:

  1) Assist in creating a personalized fitness program.

  2) Encourage a healthy lifestyle.

  3) Accelerate recovery and return to a productive life.

As a cancer survivor herself, Radka has an intimate understanding of the challenges facing the class participants.

 “I had troubles during transitioning period from a patient to a survivor,” she says. “The period after I was finished with my surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments was very difficult to navigate through as suddenly I was on my own and did not know how to transition into normal life. Very little is currently done to provide post-rehabilitation services addressing the restorative needs of cancer survivors.”

The feedback from participants has been overwhelming.

Every participant – 100% - indicated they would like to take the program again.

“Please keep this program going, we need it! Charge a price if needed,” said one participant. “The camaraderie, support, teamwork, and encouragement of one another are something that cannot be paid in dollars. This was an awesome idea to get us together. It changed my life. Thank you.”

 “Beautiful holistic program,” said another participant. “A must for cancer patients and survivors. Cannot say how much I wish to continue this program. Please arrange for follow up courses for our group!”

The health care system is expanding in many ways: more services, greater access, and evermore treatment options.

And at the frontier of this rapidly expanding system are sophisticated fitness facilities capable of providing disease-specific, exercise-based programming.

I think programs like “Back To Life” will ultimately become part of the core of what we expect from community-minded fitness facilities. What do you think? What are some other examples of disease- or condition-specific programming occurring at fitness facilities?

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