Exercise for all: Why you should be improving your 60-plus fitness offering to boost business
According to the NHS, UK adults aged 65+ spend ten or more hours each day, on average, sitting or lying down, while in a recent survey, a quarter (25%) of UK residents aged 60+ said that they exercised once a week or more.
When asked about their main reason for exercising, nearly one in six respondents aged 60+ (58%) agreed that it was to be fitter, the highest of any other age group, while just one in five (22%) claimed they exercised to lose weight, the lowest of any other age group. This, therefore, implies that keeping fit and enjoying the health benefits of exercise is the main priority for active over 60’s, and while sedentary levels may be typically high in this age group, there is a large percentage already exercising.
Improving health and fitness levels is just one benefit of exercising as we get older. However, it can also help to:
- Reduce the risk of strokes and/or heart attacks
- Better bone density
- Improve cognitive function
- Improve core strength to help reduce the risk of falling
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Gain independence
- Help meet new people and make friends
Gym and fitness business owners should look to cater to those aged 60+ to not only help expand their business, but help improve the wellbeing of their customers. Gyms and studios could do this by adding specialist 60+ classes to their offering, like seated exercise classes. This type of exercise is gentle and therefore suitable for those with reduced mobility, and helps to improve posture and balance. Fitness business owners could even offer some of their existing classes specifically for over 60s to help attract customers, make them feel more confident in the class and keep them returning week after week.
Moderate aerobic classes such as walking, cycling or aqua aerobics, or vigorous aerobic classes such as Zumba, running or martial arts are also popular with over 60s and helps them have fun, meet new people and keep their hearts healthy. Muscle strength activities such as pilates or yoga are beneficial to older customers too and have a great number of benefits including improved core strength and better balance.
The NHS recommends that adults aged 65 and over who are generally fit and have no serious health conditions should participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, along with two days of strength activity. However, the NHS Health Survey for England found that just 44% of adults aged 65 and over met these guidelines, compared to two-thirds (67%) of 19 to 64-year-olds who met theirs.
Adam Hewitt and Adam Ridler, Clinical and Master Trainers at Ten Health and Fitness offer their advice for gym and studio owners to cater to over 60s: “Don’t be scared of working with this population [...] and work with them to achieve their goals. There’s a real opportunity to create a safe, welcoming and age-inclusive environment, and to provide sessions that have a social as well as a physical benefit.
“Supervised exercise is recommended for clients unused to exercise or with existing age-related issues or injuries. Be mindful of high impact workouts, and any classes that go from zero to a hundred without a suitable warm-up.[...] And for all exercisers, regardless of age, it’s essential to listen to your body and when trying something new, stick within your limits.”
There shouldn’t be an age limit when it comes to exercise and it’s important that gyms and studios understand the needs and cater to their older customers, not just the younger ones.
Introducing age-inclusive classes, or ones aimed specifically at the over 60s, are a great way of getting older adults involved with exercise. Incorporating a regular exercise class into their weekly routine helps them meet new people and stay healthy too - all the while boosting your own business.