If you’re human, you are most likely concerned with living a long and healthy life. It doesn’t matter where you live, your gender, or how old you are now, you (at the very least) think about making smart lifestyle choices and living a good quality of life … for a long time. In a nutshell, we all think about “active aging” (also the healthy aging definition).
The aging population (defined as those 60 years of age or older) makes up more than 12 percent of the world’s population and is the fastest growing age group in the world. In fact it is growing at a rate of over two percent each year (nearly double the global population growth of 1.1 percent per year). Although this group may not represent the majority of people in the room … they will have a significant voice in the very near future when it comes to health and wellness concerns!
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), active aging is:
“the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. It allows people to realize their potential for physical, social, and mental well-being throughout the life course and to participate in society, while providing them with adequate protection, security and care when they need.”
Because health and wellness play a huge part in determining ones quality of life, fitness and exercise are a hot topic when it comes to active aging.
Active Aging – Facts and Figures
If you walk into a traditional fitness club or personal training studio, you will only notice a small percentage of people over the age of 60. Although this population makes up one-eighth of the current population, you would think a fitness club would show otherwise. That’s because every advertisement you see on TV or on the Internet is targeted to the 30-something professional looking to get fit, look sexy, and achieve results … FAST! If the fitness industry was paying attention to the numbers … it would be changing its focus to the needs and expectations of the older population if it wants to capitalize on the needs of the (very near) future.
There are two significant reasons for the rapid growth of the aging population:
- Lower levels of fertility
- Total Fertility Rate (TFR): average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime
- TFR in 1950 is 4.95 versus 2.36 in 2010
- Lower levels of mortality
- Crude Death Rate (CDR): the total number of deaths per year per 1,000 people
- As of 2014, the CDR for the whole world is 7.89 per 1,000 (down from 19.5 per 1,000 in 1950)
The aging population is growing … and it isn’t stopping any time soon. For example:
- The global population was 2.8 billion in 1955 and is 7.1 billion now. It will increase by nearly 80 million people a year to reach about 8.1 billion by the year 2025.
- Average life expectancy at birth in 1955 was just 48 years; in 1995 it was 65 years; in 2025 it will reach 73 years.
- The proportion of people over the age of 60 was eight percent in 1950, ten percent in 2000, and is projected to reach 21 percent by 2050.
- Already (as of mid-2014) there are over 870 million people over 60 years of age, making up 12.2 percent of the global population.
According to Bloomberg.com, a trusted source for business and financial information, news and insight from around the world, the following represents facts about the 50+ population in the United States:
- 8,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 each day and by 2050, there will be 161 million 50+ consumers
- 35 percent of the U.S. adult population is made up of Baby Boomers
- 70 percent of U.S. disposable income is controlled by Baby Boomers
- In 2010, the median net worth of Americans between the ages of 50 to 69 years old was $241,333
To view the infographic, click here.
Based on the information above, a fitness business (or fitness professional) who focuses on the needs and expectations of the active aging population will most likely thrive for the next 25 years. Two companies that are already doing it “right” include SilverSneakers Fitness and Nifty After Fifty.
SilverSneakers Fitness Program
Healthways, a well-being improvement company since 1981, took advantage of this opportunity with the SilverSneakers Fitness Program. The Silver Sneaker program is a fitness program designed for older adults and is offered through more than 65 major plans across the U.S. as part of their Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement and group retiree plans. Programs and services are delivered through a nationwide network of participating fitness centers across the country (i.e., YMCAs, gyms, wellness centers and other facilities).
A similar service offering, the AARP Exercise Programs through the AARPFitness.org website, was launched in 2007 and did not last as it couldn’t compete with the established offering and partnerships of the SilverSneakers Fitness Program.
Nifty After Fifty
Nifty After Fifty is a chain of fitness clubs that cater to the Baby Boomer market (50 to 95 year old market). They are not just your average health club. They deliver clinically supervised full body training, physical therapy, prescribed fitness programs, Brainaerobics, and more. Another key focus of the facility is to promote and foster social connections and a Nifty After Fifty community. After opening his first club in 2006, Dr. Sheldon Zinberg has now expanded to 38 locations in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia.
Fitness Opportunities and Careers in Active Aging
So … if you’re in the fitness business (or looking to get into the industry) you just might be considering opportunities or a career in the active aging market! To be honest, it’s a pretty safe bet (considering all of the cold hard facts).
An organization in the fitness industry, leading the way in the area of active aging and exercise opportunities for older adults, is the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA). Founded in 2001 by Colin Milner, the world leading authority on the health and wellbeing of the older adult, the ICAA’s vision was to “unite professionals in the retirement, assisted living, fitness, rehabilitation and wellness fields to dispel society’s myths about aging” and “help these professionals to empower aging Baby Boomers and older adults to improve their quality of life and maintain their dignity”. The ICAA has succeeded in doing that … and much more!
Today, the ICAA:
“connects a community of like-minded organizations and professionals who share the goals of changing society’s perceptions of aging and improving the quality of life for aging Baby Boomers and older adults within the seven dimensions of wellness (emotional, vocational, physical, spiritual, intellectual, social, environmental). The council supports these professionals with education, information, resources and tools so they can achieve optimal success.”
One of the many achievements of the ICAA is its annual conference. The ICAA Conference brings together presenters and delegates with a passion for older-adult wellness, and is held in conjunction with the Athletic Business Conference. This year’s event in Orlando, Florida included speakers and sessions, speaker videos, poster sessions, continuing education credits and a full trade show (including commercial vendors that accommodate any sports, fitness, recreation, medical or wellness facility).
If you can’t make it to the annual conference, you can also benefit from a wide variety of live webinars and educational opportunities to learn about the active aging market and how to best accommodate its needs as a fitness and wellness provider.
For more information on the ICAA, click here.