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Pop Quiz! Test Your Functional Abilities Knowledge

Your knowledge of the functional abilities of members ages 60-plus can help you choose equipment that is right for this group.

Do you really know what types of equipment are best to buy for your members who are 60 years of age and older? If you are like most fitness professionals, your immediate response may be, "Of course I do. I know exactly what my customers' wants and needs are." Well, let's see. Take the following functional abilities test.

Functional abilities test

Questions
  1. What percentage of adults in each age group has difficulty walking for one-quarter of a mile? ___ 60 to 69 years of age ___ 70 to 79 years of age ___ 80 to 89 years of age
  2. What percentage of adults in each age group has difficulty walking up 10 stairs without resting? ___ 60 to 69 years ___ 70 to 79 years ___ 80 to 89 years
  3. What percentage of adults in each age group has some level of difficulty stooping, crouching or kneeling? ___ 60 to 69 years ___ 70 to 79 years ___ 80 to 89 years
  4. What percentage of adults in each age group can have difficulty lifting or carrying 10 pounds? ___ 60 to 69 years ___ 70 to 79 years ___ 80 to 89 years
  5. What percentage of adults in each age group has difficulty using their fingers to grasp or hold small objects? ___60 to 69 years ___70 to 79 years ___80 to 89 years

Get your grade

How do the answers to these questions give you clues about equipment purchases?

Answer 1. If 21 percent of adults 60 to 69 years of age have difficulty walking one-quarter of a mile, and 30 percent of adults 70 to 79 years have the same issue, as does 49 percent of adults 80 to 89 years, consider looking closely at what treadmill you purchase for this group. Should it just have controls that go from slow to fast and up and down? Most of this group will use treadmills, but, should you buy one for this age group? They would probably benefit more from a recumbent cycle or stepper.

Answer 2. If 18 percent of adults 60 to 69 years of age, 26 percent 70 to 79 years and 41 percent 80 to 89 years has difficulty walking up 10 stairs without resting, should you buy a stairclimber or offer step classes for them? Or, should your equipment be located on the second floor of the building?

Answer 3. If 42 percent of adults 60 to 69 years, 52 percent 70 to 79 years and 66 percent 80 to 89 years has some level of difficulty stooping, crouching or kneeling, should your stretching area be on the ground? Not if you want these folks to use it. Buying equipment that allows for flexibility exercises to be performed up off the ground is the solution.

What about group exercise classes? How can you adapt the class to keep people off the ground? This is one of the reasons you see so many chair-aerobic and chair-Pilates classes in retirement communities and senior centers.

Answer 4. If 22 percent of adults 60 to 69 years, 28 percent 70 to 79 years and 46 percent 80 to 89 years of age have difficulty lifting or carrying 10 pounds, ensure that your strength equipment starts at less that 10 pounds, and increases in small increments. And what about the weight of your group exercise bar and dumbbells, or making members move their group cycling bike?

Answer 5. If 12 percent of adults 60 to 69 years, 17 percent 70 to 79 years and 25 percent 80 to 89 years of age has difficulty using their fingers to grasp or hold small objects, look for equipment, door handles and any type of adjust to be easy and large. From the front door to the faucets in your restrooms to your cardio and strength equipment, be aware of the adjustments.

Evaluate your score

So, how did you do? If you aced the test, great job. If you didn't, now is the time to make some adjustments. The more you know about your clients' functional abilities, the better you will be able to prescribe exercise programs that are applicable to them.
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