Most of the time we think of the benefits of senior exercise groups, the first thing we think of is exercise. While exercise for seniors is critical as to issues like improving balance, getting stronger and functional movement; there are hidden benefits that I never realized when I started teaching programs 7 years ago. As a group exercise instructor, I have taught both senior exercise groups and non-senior groups and noticed subtle differences with the older adults. From my observations, here are 3 hidden benefits of senior exercise groups.
1.Social- While a lot of group exercise programs have a social aspect, senior programs take sociability to the next level. I have had many times when it is hard to start a class because of the how much people were socializing. I have seniors groups that I have taught go out to coffee after, attend shows and events all built around coming to class. Unlike people who work and have many social networks, seniors use exercise as one of their outlets for meeting and connecting with people.
2. Anonymity with Accountability- One comment that many participants in my senior exercise groups say often is “when we exercise, no one is competing with one another.” Senior exercise groups often don’t have the competitive aspect like other group programs that ask questions like, how many pushups or how heavy weight are you lifting? Seniors see exercise more as of how it makes them feel by doing it as opposed to seeing who did the most or lifted the heaviest. Also with seniors there is accountability in the group because when someone doesn’t show up, they often notice and ask me where that person is.
3. Helps with everyday tasks- For many individuals in other types of group programs, it is easy to take for granted how well your body moves when you don’t have arthritis, ailments or injuries that you are currently living with. Most of the time, seniors have a few issues they are managing, and coming to exercise has helped them perform everyday tasks better. For example I have had a gentleman in one senior exercise group, tell me how exercise has given him better shoulder function to raise his arm to put glasses on the cabinet.
While many benefits of exercise are pretty obvious, some of the benefits of senior exercise were more hidden than I would have ever thought so.