Finding A Qualified Fitness Professional
Exercise for Seniors
Most older people can exercise just fine on their own, without advice from a fitness instructor. Some have special needs and may want to consult a professional. If you decide to seek advice, how can you tell whom to trust?
Anyone can call himself or herself a fitness professional, and many people do - but that doesn't always mean they have the training to help older people exercise safely and effectively.
Instructors who aren't trained to work with older adults, specifically, might not be aware of their needs. For example, they might not know that certain conditions or medications can change older people's heart rates or that people with osteoporo- sis risk spine fractures if they do some types of forward bending exercises incorrectly.
A number of professionals are familiar with the special physical needs of older people. Doctors who specialize in sports medicine are highly qualified to help you exercise the right way. So are professionals who have a college degree in exercise physiology. They can help you start an exercise program tailored to your needs, build it up to your best possible level, then show you how to continue safely on your own.
Physical therapists also are qualified to design exercise plans for older people, especially those who have conditions affecting their muscles and skeletal systems, or nervous-system conditions that affect their muscles. Some physical therapists take special training for a certification in geriatrics.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) also trains and certifies people to work with older adults. The ACSM is made up of health professionals and scientists with an interest in fitness. ACSM certified fitness instructors work in a variety of settings; for example, you might find them leading hospital based exercise programs for older adults, working with older people in exercise studies, or working as personal trainers.
Some people are reluctant to start exercising because they are afraid it will be too strenuous. Researchers have found that you don't have to do strenuous exercises to gain health benefits; moderate exercises are effective, too.
Cardiologists can advise you on how to improve your cardiovascular system through endurance exercise. Orthopedic doctors can help you understand how to prevent injuries to your muscles, bones, and other structures.
Many hospitals and health plans now have wellness centers that offer exercise programs. It's likely that the fitness instructors hired by these organizations are carefully screened and are qualified to teach you how to exercise correctly. Try calling them to find a fitness professional in your area.
If you do consult a fitness instructor, ask for his or her credentials. Any instruc- tor who is qualified to work with older people is likely to be proud of his or her credentials and will be happy to share them with you. Also ask about expense. Costs vary, and insurance plans differ as to what kinds of services they will cover.
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Disclaimer: The material on this Web site is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or fitness professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness program or fat or weight reduction program. FitnessandFreebies.com takes no responsibility for individual results, or any claim made by a third party.