It will likely be one of the major trends in health and fitness over the coming years and it has nothing to do with body image or stories of the body beautiful on Instagram.
The world is getting older and living longer. people rarely if ever consider themselves to be ‘old’ and react badly to being marketed as such. When you hit 60 years old you could be forgiven for thinking that the world only wanted to sell you funeral plans or end of life care.
The chances are that in your head you still want to be out running marathons, cycling the Wicklow Way or at the very least being able to lead a healthy and active life.
In the US an incredible 90 per cent of all marketing spend is directed at those who are under the age of 50. Driven by marketing being a young persons game perhaps, but when you throw in the fact that ‘baby boomers’ are outspending ‘millennials’ to the tune of $600 Billion, yes billion in terms of consumer goods you quickly see that balance will have to change.
Half of all adults are now over the age of 50, a higher figure than ever before and the age profile of humanity is moving in only one direction.
So what is sport and the fitness world doing to keep ahead of this curve, or even remotely catch up to it? Not nearly enough.
Colin Milner was in Ireland recently to speak at the Ireland Active Conference in Wicklow and he had plenty to say that should make us all sit up.
“85 per cent of those aged between 40 and 90 do not see themselves as being old,” he said. “Being ‘old’ in years only becomes a factor when you lose your independence and that is the critical reason to maintain physical and mental wellbeing.”
“Physical exercise is the key to retaining strength and function. it is also a vital factor in maintaining a healthy mind and avoiding the loneliness and depression that can otherwise be a real threat.”
“Healthcare is changing from a principle of keeping us disease free past a certain point to encouraging us to be fit and healthy in all aspects of our life.”
Wearable technology is expanding most in the older demographic who want to understand better how sleep and exercise can help to maintain an active lifestyle. It’s no longer seen as a given that we stop playing in our 30’s and then either just retire to a golf course or more likely just watch exercise in terms of sport from the stands or the couch.
Initiatives like walking football are really taking root in the UK and will do so here within the next few years. It could be to older adults what five a side was to social sport when that was developed to cater for busier times.
Why should people who once loved nothing more than a kick about feel that they now are limited to playing hands of bridge rather than a sweeping crossfield pass?
Gyms and fitness facilities also need to concentrate less on the thumping music and pumping iron towards specific programmes targeted at people who want to maintain strength but who no longer see the need to be ripped.
Milner’s presentation was an eye-opener. It’s an area we will focus on ever more in 2019. Watch this space.