Commentary by Dr. Carol Weesner.
There is a saying in medicine that “children are not little adults.” This refers to the fact that the treatment of health and illness is quite different, not just incrementally less for children. The same is true for exercise and health when one compares a 16-year-old body to a 60-year-old one. As we age, our bodies change and respond differently to illness, medications, medical treatment and exercise.
Well-qualified personal trainers (i.e., those with college degrees in exercise science-related fields, including experience and additional training in working with older adults) provide many benefits, in addition to obvious improvements in strength, flexibility, balance and endurance. Here are five reasons highly qualified personal trainers are so valuable and worth every penny of their time.
1. Education: Qualified personal trainers teach you what exercises are appropriate and beneficial and how to do them properly. They teach you how to use recommended equipment and determine the appropriate weights, repetitions and techniques for each exercise. Every trainer should be able to share with you how any particular task is of benefit.
Experienced trainers are familiar with common injuries, acute medical problems and chronic diseases such as arthritis, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and diabetes. In addition, all trainers and staff working with older adults should be certified in CPR and the AED, or automated external defibrillator, should an emergency arise.
2. Injury prevention: Supervision by a qualified personal trainer reduces the risk of injury because they monitor your form and posture, ensure proper settings on equipment, monitor fatigue and know when to ease down a workout or make one more challenging. They are trained to identify impending emergency medical conditions and are familiar with the limitations imposed by chronic conditions such as an arthritic knee, shoulder pain or lower back discomfort.
3. Realistic goal setting: Qualified trainers do not promote trendy exercise programs, diet fads, nor do they make unrealistic promises. They use each individual’s goals (such as walking a certain distance for vacation, getting ready for a seasonal sport such as baseball or golf, or keeping up with the grandkids) and medical history to develop safe and appropriate programs.
4. Accountability: Working with a trainer individually or in a small group creates more accountability. If a date/time has been set to exercise, it is less likely that you will change your mind and do something else. Trainers provide real-time motivation and create challenging, safe and fresh workouts.
5. Healthy habits: Regular, supervised exercise helps you create good exercise habits that stay with you for life. It is never too late to start exercising. Staying fit never gets old.
Working with a personal trainer is an investment in an active and healthy lifestyle as you age. Whether you are just getting back to an exercise program, recovering from an illness or injury, or looking for better results from your current program, choose a professional to be by your side on your fitness journey.
Dr. Carol Weesner, M.D., is the founder and medical director of Motion 4 Life Fitness in Carmel. For more, visit motion4lifefitness.com/about-us/.