Guest Column - October 2012
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Active Aging

10 Trends Changing the Face of the Fitness Industry

By The International Council on Active Aging

6. Wellness, wellness, wellness.

"Physical activity is just one of the seven dimensions of wellness. It's important, but needs to be delivered in a larger context," Milner observed. "The fitness industry should start connecting the dots by educating its instructors on the interplay among the physical, social, emotional, environmental, vocational, intellectual and spiritual dimensions, and creating quieter, friendlier environments conducive to making those connections."

7. More mind-body programming.

"Along with a wellness philosophy, fitness centers should understand and embrace more mind-body programming that emphasizes the value of not being in constant motion," Milner said. "Rather than focusing solely on burning calories, programs should also teach participants how to really 'listen to their bodies' and become more aware of how to initiate slower, more deliberate and functional movements with good form. Think meditation and meditation gardens, tai chi and other mind-body offerings."

8. Technology to support wellness outcomes.

"The idea that 50-plus consumers are technophobes is a myth," Milner stressed. "There is huge room for growth in technologies that facilitate self-assessments, automated messaging and reminders, and outcomes data for organizations that offer such tools to their members."

9. Green exercise and equipment.

"Multigenerational playgrounds and wellness parks are manifestations of an emerging trend toward green exercise," Milner stated. "The benefits of outdoor play have been well documented for people of all ages. Similarly, green equipment—walking trails, gardens and water—support exploration of the environment, as well as providing physical challenges that can improve fitness."

10. Active aging provides policy framework.

"Active aging is not a buzz term; it is a policy framework recommendation from the World Health Organization that has been implemented in many regions of the world, including Europe and parts of Asia," Milner observed. "Agencies, governments and other stakeholders in North America are stepping up to the plate and making active aging a priority. As momentum continues to grow, health clubs and fitness centers are perfectly situated to benefit by embracing the concept—thereby gaining a clear advantage over companies that haven't yet started to do so."

The International Council on Active Aging is the professional association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry. ICAA supports professionals who develop wellness facilities, programs and services for adults over 50. The association is focused on active aging—an approach to aging that helps older adults live as fully as possible within all dimensions of wellness, and provides its members with education, information, resources and tools. For more information, visit