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Why Fitness Professionals Must Learn to Help Mature Adults with Brain Health

Humanity is racing toward a brain-health crisis, according to the World Health Organization. The number of people with dementia is expected to triple in the next three decades.

The helpful news from WHO is this: Exercise plays a key role in fighting cognitive decline and dementia.

So, those of us in the fitness industry have a greater chance than ever to make a big impact by including brain health in our training and interactions with people over 50.

That’s the message of Ryan Glatt, a brain health coach at the Pacific Brain Health Center.  Ryan and the Functional Aging Institute worked together to bring you the Brain Health Trainer Certification. It’s a unique program that teaches about the connections between brain and body health – and about how fitness professionals can help mature adults with both.

“We can play a significant role in delivering exercise interventions for the primary outcome of brain health, and not just as a secondary benefit of exercising,” Ryan says. “We need to do more.”

Fitness professionals have three steps to follow, he says.

  1. Educating the public about the cognitive benefits of exercise.
  2. Referring people with possible cognitive decline to doctors for early intervention – much like physical therapists refer patients to relevant medical professionals.
  3. Building exercise programming to create primary brain-health results.

Trainers need to encourage clients to have a well-rounded exercise routine that includes balance, resistance training, and cardio work. It helps to know how some activities can have specific benefits on memory, attention and other brain functions. That includes, for instance, dance, sports and martial arts, which involve some level of choreography, which is good for the memory.

Even in initial assessments with prospective clients, fitness pros can learn to raise the topic, Ryan says. For example, if a prospect in her 50s says she wants to lose weight, you can bring up the topic of brain health even at that early stage. “There’s a growing body of research that links exercise to brain health,” you might say. “Does that sound like something you’d like to work on, as well?”

That can open the conversation to topics that might indicate a referral is necessary – or help you build a fitness program to address them.

“We like to tell people that exercise will help them be able to play with their grandkids,” Ryan points out. “But we can also help train them so that they also can remember their grandkids’ names better.”


Join Ryan Glatt for the upcoming webinar on this topic, Cognitive Fitness: Modifying Your Exercise Variables for Brain-Based Outcomes


Brain health is a big, rich topic that we’re going to be hearing more about. Any fitness professional helping mature people live well should be educated on how to help with their brain health, too.


Ryan Glatt, FAFS, BSc is a psychometrist and Brain Health Coach at the Brain Health Center in the Pacific Neuroscience Institute. With a strong background in exercise science and human health, Ryan develops curricula specifically targeted towards those with dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), and traumatic brain injury, coaching individuals towards optimal brain health. He is the author of the Brain Health Trainer Course with Functional Aging Institute.

mold

Is Mold Your Root Cause?

Once upon a time I was engaged. I was 21 years old and more in love than I had ever been, and perhaps more than I have even to this day as I sit here writing this at 6 am on a calm Summer morning.  I lived with my fiancé and her children. Although life was a bit nutty at times. We had something. Something good. For a moment there, it was permanent…

Use Exercise Bands to Boost Your Cardio Endurance and Reduce Inflammation

Researchers studied 1,544 people age 50-plus. Some of those in their 80s had the lowest inflammation levels in their bodies because they took care of their health. This included cardio exercises along with resistance – weight training with weights and bands, stretching for flexible joints and mobility. Even in extreme old age, centennials showed positive outcomes when they exercised. Low levels of inflammation were also an important predictor of people’s cognitive function, especially those in the oldest age group.

Lori Michiel in her studio

I’d have to say that of all the exercises I do, I love anything aerobic (getting my heart rate up) the most.  Walking, jogging, biking and dancing are the most common forms to get your motor running and is a great way to shake off the cobwebs. Any quick, sustained movement can increase your heart rate.

Before you start moving around, think about what motivates you to push a little harder. Are you interested in exercise to reduce stress and shake off the blues, lose weight, build a healthier brain (cognition), or make new friends?

Researchers say those who believed exercise was good for stress reduction valued it more with increased age. Motivation to move when reaching 60-plus can yield different benefits. For instance, people who exercise experience less inflammation in their bodies. Inflammation can lead to illness (stemming from a lower immune system) and difficulty losing weight. Losing weight can be especially troublesome if you have joint issues (hip, knees or back). With each pound you lose, the equivalent of four pounds of pressure can be released.

The combination of cardio mixed with bands is one solution for cardio exercise to keep inflammation at bay. It is fun. Be creative and you will never get bored. In this month’s Exercise Snack Video, I will show you a few quick examples. Pay close attention to my cues on form and technique and in the long run (pardon the pun), you’ll have fun!!

Side note: The familiar tune of the Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive” has been used for medical training for some time. It has the right beat — not to mention the perfect title — for providing CPR’s chest compressions at the right pace to revive a patient. Try playing it sometime when you exercise.

Reprinted with permission from Lori Michiel. Originally published on Lori’s Fitness Blog For Active Adults and Seniors.


Lori Michiel, NASM, has been assisting seniors in their homes since 2006 with customized exercise programs including those designed to address Parkinson’s, metabolic disorders, arthritis and diabetes. These adaptive programs are specifically designed to improve balance, circulation, flexibility, mobility and promote independence. Lori Michiel Fitness has over 40 certified trainers who are matched with clients in Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange Counties. Connect with Lori at www.LoriMichielFitness.com.