Personal Fitness Professional - Spring 2017 - 19
combine physical exertion with mental
challenge, such as learning a new sport.
The research confirms that physical activity
and exercise are keys to maintaining high levels of cognition and reduce risk of dementia
with advancing age.
Ageless Grace (www.agelessgrace.com) is
an exercise program that incorporates physical movements with mental stimulation and
their principles can be incorporated into any
trainer's programming. The 21 tools (exercises),
developed by creator Denise Medved, are performed to music and are designed to stimulate
what she refers to as the five primary functions
of the brain - strategic planning; memory and
recall; analytical thinking; creativity and imagination; and kinesthetic learning. An example of
some of these tools are listed below:
} Body geometry - Make shapes with different body parts simultaneously. For
example, make a circle with your right
hand, a vertical line with your right hand
and a horizontal line with your left hand.
} Body math - Count to 8 aloud while
bouncing your right leg and right hand up
and down quickly on the count. Switch to
the left leg and hand. Alternate back forth.
Mix things up by clapping on the "3" or
snapping on the "7."
Front row orchestra - Pretend to vigorously play any musical instrument such as
a piano, clarinet, guitar, castanets, drums,
violin or didgeridoo.
Each tool is performed for the length of a
3-4 minute song. These tools stimulate both
the body and mind simultaneously and can be
used as a complete program or integrated into
existing training methods.
There are other suggested ways to stimulate
neuroplasticity during training. One key is to
continually introduce new skills and movement
patterns into the routine. Increase movement
complexity regularly and often. For example, instead of practicing the same stepping
(agility) pattern every session, use a different
stepping pattern every time. Another key is to
play. Have fun, laugh, use your imagination and
basically act like a kid again. Introduce games
that require physical movement such as hop
scotch or Red Light, Green Light and incorporate an element of fun. Finally, encourage your
clients to continually learn new physical skills -
play a sport or instrument; paint or sculpt; take
Exercise for older adults is about much more
than just losing weight and building muscle.
According to the Functional Aging Training
Model developed by the Functional Aging
Institute, it is important to address all primary
domains of overall functional ability including:
cognitive/emotional; neuromuscular; musculoskeletal; cardiorespiratory; balance and mobility. It is possible to create exercise programs
that will keep your older clients functional and
mentally sharp for years to come.
Dr. Cody Sipe is a recognized
authority on exercise for older
adults. He is an award-winning
fitness professional with over
20 years of experience. He is a
professor, researcher, educator
and co-founder of the Functional Aging Institute. For more information on how
to train older adults to maximize functional ability
SPRING 2017 | WWW.FIT-PRO.COM | 19