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Connecting with Baby Boomers and Older Adults

by ACSM January 4, 2012

How do you get people to do what's good for them? Parents of young children may wrestle with getting them to eat vegetables or write thank-you cards for holiday gifts. (Some of us struggle with such things well into adulthood, hence our recurring New Year's resolutions.) Motivating people of every age to be physically active is an ongoing challenge, despite the familiar and well-documented benefits.

Lifestyle modifications can be a tough nut to crack. As parents of toddlers and teens know, it's important to consider how your message is conveyed, received and timed. There are no guarantees, as we humans are dazzlingly different from one another. Still, considering the mindset and predilections of those we talk to bumps up our chances of being heard and understood - and, ultimately, of persuading people to take action.

Research underlying the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans shows that exercise is good for individuals of any age or physical condition. Older adults, though, have distinct reasons to stay active, and calls for a special focus on fitness for individuals ages 50 and up. Muscle mass tends to decline with age, and age-related balance problems can lead to falls. Also, exercise improves coginition and fends off chronic diseases - thus affecting "secondary aging."

Mining the Data

So how do we encourage older adults to stay active?

Marketers know to bring tailored information to their target audiences? What they know about television viewer demographics leads to the placement of pick-up truck commercials during boxing matches and pharmaceutical ads during the nightly news. So to reach older adults, we need to think like marketers.

Consider the following from the 2010 Del Webb Baby Boomer Survey:

  • More than half of all Boomers are more active than they were 15 years ago.
  • The top reasons to exercise are to "optimize health," "improve appearance," "reduce stress," and "improve self-confidence."
  • Boomers plan to retire later (age 67, say those turning 50) and continue working after retirement.
  • Approximately 40 percent of Boomers have taken up a new hobby or activity in the last few years.
  • 71 percent of younger Boomers and 60 percent of older Boomers participate in volunteer activities.

Other research tells us:

  • Americans age 47 to 74 own the highest percentage of e-readers than any other age group (Pew Research Group)
  • 57% of consumers age 55 and up prefer to bank online rather than in branches - a 20% increase between 2010 and 2011 (American Bankers Association)
  • Older boomers and adults age 74+ are catching up to other age groups in their use of social networking sites, growing 360% and 400%, respectively, between 2008 and 2010 (Pew Research Center)

Lessons Learned

These data suggest strategies for reaching Boomers and their elders with appropriate and persuasive messages about being physically active. Show them how they can maintain health, work longer and enjoy life. Reach them through hobbies and volunteer activities. Include social media and other online channels in the mix. Remember to segment the audience - don't treat everyone born before 1965 as if they have the same interests, needs, and habits. The Internet, of course, is a bountiful resource for demographic data, and provides tips on marketing and communication.

Here's to a year of better health for all!

What do your insights about Boomers and older adults suggest by way of strategies to encourage them to be more physically active? How best to reach various segments of this expansive demographic?

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Marketing Physical Activity | Older adults


1/4/2012 11:59:32 PM #

Thanks for the  survey on being active and exercise .It's so true  the more i do active things like yoga and nature walks and (Link Removed) (Link Removed) bike workout</a> the better i feel . Keep up the good work.

jimm United States |

1/11/2012 12:26:10 PM #

i enjoyed the article. it motivated me to excersie more.

bob United States |

1/11/2012 12:35:13 PM #

people that are old should do more sports and excercise activitys to live longer

sebastian United States |

1/11/2012 1:32:46 PM #

i love how it encourages people over 50 to go out, have fun and stay healthy!!!Smile im younger than expected to read this and i love the different tips given!!!!! keep up the good advice!!Smile

Kayla:))) United States |

1/11/2012 1:35:35 PM #

Thanks for the info, it's always nice to learn something new.

Joseph United States |

1/11/2012 1:38:01 PM #

Wow! Thanks for sharing. This info. was very thankful. Its Very true also the more i do stuff Active stuff the more i feel great. Its inportant to be active. (:

Gabbby. United States |

1/11/2012 1:50:09 PM #

I agree that older people should be more involved in exercising and being active, beacause it is important especially for older people to be healthy and in fit to stay healthy

Arianna United States |

1/11/2012 2:58:17 PM #

I like this because people who are older should excercise so they arent so fragile.

Gamergirl United States |

1/11/2012 3:39:28 PM #

This will hep my grandma because she needs to be more active, thank you

Faleria United States |

1/11/2012 3:55:36 PM #

im glad that people are finally reolizing how important obesity is , veryy good blog , keep up the good work (:

<3 United States |

1/12/2012 12:09:28 PM #

Your right people need to be more active because of the many unhealthy things now a days. We can be overqeight or have diabetes and stuff and thats not good. People need at least 30 minutes of exercise ! Well this is why people need to be active, also to be healthy & have a good shape & fit.

Alexandra Barba United States |

1/12/2012 1:26:33 PM #

This was quite interesting, it's alwys nice to learn something new. I like how this informs us of reasons to exercise like optimize health, improve appearance,reduce stress, and improve self-confidence.

Joseph United States |

1/24/2012 4:08:37 AM #

I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have bookmarked you to check out new stuff you post.
I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have bookmarked you to check out new stuff you post.
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rajesh United States |

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