Many things make today's older adults different than their predecessors, but there may be two traits that stand out more than others - their propensity to continue working after retirement and their passion for fitness and healthy living. One older adult has found a way to combine these two facets of senior living, and by doing so he's helping his peers stay in shape, reports NPR.
John David is 73, but if you ask him, that's not too old to be a fitness instructor. After decades spent trimming fat at the gym, he's become a personal trainer and workout class leader at a YMCA in New York City, and many of his fans are seniors as well.
David's students say they enjoy his classes because the instructor knows about the issues older adults face when it comes to physical fitness. He makes accommodations for older adults during his lessons - for example, while leading the class in balance exercises, he allows older adults to hold onto the backs of their chairs if need be. David says the fact that many people misunderstand older adults and their relationship to fitness is what drove him to this career path.
"If you were pretty, if you were handsome and you were fit, you got a lot of help from the trainers - a lot of help," David told the news outlet of his experience at the gym during his younger years. "And if you were funny looking or overweight or awkward or had gray hair, not so much. And I thought the people who need the stuff are not getting it."
David's role as a fitness instructor is an encore career - he spent years in the television industry before becoming a certified trainer in his 50s. After being turned down for a job by his own gym, he began to volunteer at retirement communities, and eventually found that he was able to get paying jobs leading groups of seniors.
Like David's lessons, workout classes at retirement homes are tailored for seniors to help them improve balance, flexibility and muscle strength. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults over 65 should focus on both strength training and aerobic activity to improve wellness. Seniors are advised to aim for around 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week, but this can be done in 10-minute increments to avoid exhaustion.