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Let's Stop the Stereotypes!

Have you ever noticed that advertisements for active living, senior fitness, and similar, use images like the ones below? What do you notice about these images? More often than not, any image meant to represent senior fitness or active living for seniors features a smiling group of stretching seniors.

Why is this the image of choice? It’s part of a pervasive myth that seniors are only capable of gentle exercise and stretching. Meanwhile, the research tells us that seniors are able to exercise at relatively high intensities and see physical improvements similar to their younger counterparts. More and more we are hearing and seeing stories of seniors with incredible commitments to fitness. For example, Gladys "Gladyator" Burrill, a part-time Hawaiian resident who completed her first marathon at age 86, 72 year old Lauren Bruzzone a CrossFit athlete who was featured on Good Morning America, or Lynn Burt who suffered from bone on bone osteoarthritis and avoided a double knee replacement through physical therapy. It's important to realize that what sets these impressive individuals apart from other seniors is simply a mindset and a commitment to physical fitness.

Healthcare, recreation, and fitness professionals need to be encouraging and supporting adults at every age to become more active, including older adults. It's important to educate that it’s never too late to become physically active. If someone’s been physically inactive for an extended period of time, start by encouraging them to visit their doctor. Once they’ve received the green light, encourage them to begin with small bouts of just 10 minutes of physical activity. A great start is going for a short walk a few times per week. Encourage them to steadily increase the length of time and frequency per week. Organizing a waking group is a simple and effective way to help older adults reach 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week. At a moderate to vigorous intensity, the individual should be able to talk, but not sing. This method of monitoring intensity is called “the talk test”. For individuals looking for something a little more engaging than going for a walk, the StrongerU Senior Fitness Cardio class helps participants achieve approximately 20 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per class. This class features interesting movement combinations set to music. In StrongerU Senior Fitness Cardio, participants benefit their heart and lungs, while also challenging their coordination which contributes to intellectual health and falls prevention. StrongerU Senior Fitness Cardio is available in seated and standing versions to meet the needs of your participants.

Once your participants feel confident achieving at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week, it's time to add in one day per week of muscular strengthening for the major muscle groups. StrongerU Senior Fitness Strength is designed to ensure older adults achieve a quality, safe, and effective full body strengthening workout. Each StrongerU Senior Fitness Strength class begins with a cardiovascular warm up to prepare the muscles and ends with a full body stretch. Once your participants feel successful attending one class per week, encourage them to increase to attending two classes per week. Adding muscular strengthening to your physical activity routine helps make activities of daily living easier, increases metabolism, and contributes to falls prevention. In StrongerU Senior Fitness Strength, there are no boring repetitions. Similar to StrongerU Senior Fitness Cardio, this class features movement patterns and changing tempos set to music which keeps participants engaged.

As per Canada’s physical activity guidelines, now that your participants have achieved 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity for their heart and lungs, and two days per week of muscular strengthening for the major muscle groups, they are ready to add in stretching to maintain flexibility and range of motion. Whenever stretching, you first need to make sure the muscles are warm. Therefore, a great time to add in stretching is following aerobic and muscular strengthening activities. Every StrongerU Senior Fitness program (Cardio, Strength, and Circuit) ends with a full body stretch. StrongerU Senior Fitness Stretch focuses solely on increasing flexibility, range of motion, and includes a component of mindfulness and guided relaxation.

Canada’s physical activity guidelines also recommend activities that help to maintain balance and prevent falls. By meeting the previous guidelines, participants will be performing activities that check these boxes. StrongerU Senior Fitness Circuit helps participants to maintain balance and prevent falls through cardiovascular, muscular strengthening, coordination, and balance drills.

To help Canada’s older adults maintain or increase their current level of fitness, we need to stop the stereotypes. Canadian seniors are capable of more than just gentle exercise and stretching. The research tells us that they need to be engaging in more than stretching to reach Canada’s physical activity guidelines and reap the associated benefits. For many senior-serving professionals, not being able to provide your seniors with a quality fitness program may stem from a not knowing how to put together an effective program or feeling anxious about doing the wrong thing. The one or two day senior fitness course you took may have felt like “drinking from a fire hose” of information and may not have properly equipped you to feel confident in creating a quality fitness program for your participants. The StrongerU Senior Fitness Instructor certification begins by covering important exercise science topics like anatomy, physiology and movement principles. The online format allows you to learn at your own pace which increases knowledge retention and allows you to be better able to put into practice these complex topics. The second half of the course focuses on learning, executing, and coaching the pre-choreographed StrongerU Senior Fitness classes. Once fully certified, you’ll subscribe to the StrongerU Senior Fitness Series to maintain your certification and receive 30-minutes of new content monthly. Each month you’ll get a dynamic instructional video and choreography notes to learn and teach to your participants. There is no other senior fitness certification that gives you everything you need to teach quality, safe, and effective senior fitness programming. As a StrongerU Senior Fitness Instructor, you are joining a group of passionate senior-serving professionals who strive to challenge ageist stereotypes and help Canadian seniors live long, happy, and healthy lives. Visit to learn more. Use promo code “1st100” by September 10th to enroll for just $100 ($150 savings).

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