Resident Experience

Break a Sweat: How to Take Your Senior Living Community’s Fitness Program to the Next Level

June 29, 2023

Fitness classes are a staple of life enrichment programs in senior living communities. It’s expected that your community will provide residents with the support they need to age actively. Active aging promotes better health and overall well-being for residents while helping them maintain their independence. Life enrichment professionals play a key role in ensuring that older adults have the opportunity to exercise safely and consistently.

Even if your community offers fitness classes, you may worry that your residents are not getting enough exercise. Perhaps engagement is low or attendance is starting to drop off. If this is happening to you, don’t worry! In this blog, we’ll discuss how to breathe new life back into your community’s fitness program. First, we’ll explain how a successful fitness program will help both your residents and your business thrive. Then, we’ll teach you how to identify gaps in your programming and tailor your efforts to meet your residents’ needs and interests. Lastly, we’ll discuss the role that a senior living fitness provider can play in bringing your life enrichment programming to the next level. 

The benefits of exercise for older adults

Most people are already aware of the physical benefits of exercise. For older adults, exercise can increase strength, balance, and flexibility to reduce the risk of falls and counter the muscle loss that comes with age. But exercise can also have emotional, intellectual, and social benefits that contribute to seniors’ overall well-being.

Learning about the benefits of exercise for seniors will help you dispel common myths you may have heard. For example, your residents or their families may tell you that they are too old to exercise. Many older adults also worry that exercise will be painful or that it will make their chronic health conditions worse. Fortunately, it is scientifically proven that exercise can be done safely at any age with proper instruction. Exercise can actually improve pain, help manage chronic conditions, and reduce the risk of injury for older adults. 

The ROI on exercise programs

Exercise programs don’t just benefit your residents — they can also be essential for a healthy business! Older adults are looking for senior living communities with a life enrichment program that will help them age actively and maintain their independence. Having a first-class fitness program can help attract prospects to your community and improve your competitive positioning. 

Active aging helps residents maintain their health and independence longer. This means that residents who live in a community with an excellent life enrichment program are less likely to need to move to a community that offers more care. Longer lengths of stay result in increased ROI for your senior living community. To learn more about the ROI on wellness, you can read our free eBook The Business of Wellness for Senior Communities.

Now that you understand how investing in a fitness program will benefit your residents and your business, here are the steps you can take to bring your programming to the next level.

  1. Use Welbi to learn about your residents’ fitness needs

When developing a fitness program, it’s important to match the needs of the residents in your community. The easiest way to do so is to examine your resident demographics in Welbi. View your residents’ profiles and assessments and make note of their fitness goals and any mobility aids they may need. This will help you match your programming to the average fitness level of your residents and determine if you need more standing or seated activities. 

When reviewing your resident data, you can also see if your residents are interested in a type of physical activity that your life enrichment program may not yet offer. Maybe you have residents who want to form a walking club, take zumba classes, or hold a frisbee golf tournament. Encourage your residents to pursue their interests, since the more they enjoy an exercise, the more likely they are to stick with it!

  1. Perform an audit of your current program offerings

Once you’ve reviewed your resident data, the next step to improving your fitness program is to see if your current offerings are meeting the needs of your community. Take a look at your previous month’s activity calendar and make note of the fitness classes that were held. You can then view the attendance records for these programs to see if they were popular. If few residents attended, it may be because the programs do not match their needs and interests.

When reviewing your life enrichment calendar, you should also consider if you are offering enough fitness classes for your residents to remain healthy. Physical activity guidelines for older adults recommend 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week, in sessions of 10 minutes or more. It’s also important for older adults to have opportunities to strengthen their muscles and improve balance to prevent falls. To see if your life enrichment program hits the mark, you can perform a FITT audit, which measures program Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type. You can learn more about how to perform a program FITT audit here. If your life enrichment program is falling short, don’t worry — you’re on your way to improving!

  1. Explore partnerships with senior living fitness providers

Once you’ve taken the previous steps, you’ll understand the fitness needs of your community and know what types of programs you need to add to your calendar to meet them. However, implementing new programs can be the most challenging part of the process! Many life enrichment professionals lack confidence that they have the knowledge and expertise to help their residents exercise safely. They may feel uncomfortable planning or leading fitness classes for older adults. This is where partnering with a senior living fitness provider can prove beneficial!

StrongerU Senior Fitness provides life enrichment professionals with the education, tools, and resources to deliver high-quality, dynamic, and engaging senior fitness experiences to the older adults they serve. They offer an online instructor course for life enrichment professionals to learn the fundamentals of senior fitness. StrongerU provides 30-minutes of brand new class content monthly for your to learn and teach to your residents in a rotation of four formats — Cardio, Strength, Stretch, and Balance — to help older adults maintain a healthy brain and body. Here’s a little more about their classes:

  • StrongerU Cardio: StrongerU Cardio participants move and groove their way to healthier hearts and lungs.
  • StrongerU Strength: This program uses interesting movement combinations, instead of boring repetitions, to engage each of the major muscle groups.
  • StrongerU Stretch: Each class begins with a warm-up, progressing into head-to-toe stretching, and ends with a themed guided relaxation, mindfulness, and purposeful breathing
  • StrongerU Circuit: In this class, we don't just stand on one foot or walk a line heel to heel, instead, each class uses an air-light ball to complete drills and exercises that truly help to prevent real-world fall scenarios. 

If you're curious to learn more about StrongerU Senior Fitness for your community, we encourage you to check out their website. Additionally, before deciding on which fitness program to invest in, take a look at the Welbi platform, where you can analyze your residents' fitness preferences and make an informed decision.

Katie Stewart

Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.

Holly Mathias

Holly is a member of Welbi’s Marketing team! She has a background in communications and marketing, and is a compassionate individual who loves team work, story telling, and wellness.

Wendy Riopelle

Wendy is a student in the Honours BA in English program at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.

Want to get articles like this one fresh in your inbox when they’re published? Sign up for our newsletter and join the Welbi Family today.

Want to learn more about how Welbi can assist with your community’s QAPI program? Book a live demonstration of Welbi today!

Never miss a post!
Sign up for our newsletter
Never miss a post!

Join our mailing list to get our latest newsletters straight in your inbox.