Posted on March 15, 2019 by Gordon Smith

Life expectancy is increasing. By 2040, nearly one in seven Britons will be over 75 and almost a third of people born today can expect to live to 100. In 2014, the average age in the UK exceeded 40 for the first time.

As a result, there is an increased focus on ageing well, which is why more and more older adults are taking up exercise to help keep active and maintain good mobility.

If you’re gearing up for retirement, have just retired and are looking at later living schemes or if you’re thinking of installing a home gym, we give you some pointers on what to expect from good gym design.

The growth of later living schemes

As people get older and move into retirement, they often want to reduce the responsibilities of maintaining a house and downsize to a space that requires less upkeep, whilst also helping mobility by being on one level or having fewer stairs.

However, with only 2% of the UK’s homes allocated as retirement homes, the only alternatives are to move to a care home – or go on a sheltered housing waiting list. With these options, unsurprisingly, most older adults are choosing to stay in the family home.

Staying put has some negative effects. It is an impediment to the property market, keeping properties out of the reach of younger people. It also has a psychological impact as retirees can feel restricted, isolated and sometimes lonely.

This is where later living schemes become important. They are set to shake up the housing market and give older adults more options around where and how they want to live.

Understandably, if you’re researching these schemes with a view to moving into a later living community, choosing one with gym and fitness facilities can be really appealing.

Installing a private gym in your home

On the other hand, if you decide to stay at home and want to have a gym installed, it means you can exercise whenever you want and however you want. It also means no traffic or peak gym times to contend with either.

If you’re feeling a little sluggish, you can do exercise on your own terms. You don’t have to think about getting to a public gym, but instead walk a few steps to your workout.

With the NHS guidelines stating older adults should do 30 minutes exercise five days a week, there is little risk of your gym being idle. Quite the opposite.

Unlike a public gym, a private gym can be tailored to your specific needs, so it’s worth getting a specialist to help you make the right choices and select the right equipment.

Gym design for later living

As you can expect with older adults, gym design needs careful consideration as equipment needs to be accessed easily without too much strain on the body.

Ensuring weights and handheld equipment are at waist height for ease of access, as well as making sure cardio equipment is easy to use with clear instructions when setting a workout programme.

Multi-purpose resistance towers are ideal for older adults, as are ellipticals and bikes. For strengthening work, then kettle bells, medicine balls and resistance bands are also great.

It’s also important to create an area for stretching and additional classes, so mats and bands should also be provided. If you have the space to build an additional studio, then this could be used for Yoga or Pilates sessions, as well as other group-based exercise, such as dance or Tai Chi.

The benefits of exercise

The three key elements of exercise are resistance, cardio and flexibility. As we age, these areas become even more important, especially strength and flexibility.

Regular exercise ensures the body remains strong and healthy as we mature, especially as an increased risk of falls and reducing muscle mass are the main health issues for older adults.

In fact, there are classes in The Netherlands that teach older adults to fall ‘properly’, therefore reducing the risk of injury and recovery time. Quite simply, keeping the body active ensures greater long-term health benefits.

The other benefits of exercise for older adults includes helping to maintain cognitive function, improves cardiovascular function and improves mood and self-esteem.

Ageing well is such an important issue these days, not just for overall health, but to also ensure less pressure is put on the health system and that people are living happy, active and fulfilled lives for as long as possible.

At motive8, we consult, design, install and maintain gyms for hotels, businesses, student and private residential accommodation – click here to learn more.