Age-Friendly Fitness Centers and Wellness Programs Attract Older Adults

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New ICAA survey shows programs draw business to the active aging industry.

Age-friendly fitness options are a great business driver

Physical activity is the well-documented solution to maintaining the quality of life for adults 50 years and older. Yet, with the low amount of exercise participation among adults in general, is it worthwhile for organizations serving older adults to expand their activity and wellness programs?

A resounding "yes" is the opinion of 497 active-aging businesses responding to a new International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) survey. A nearly unanimous 95% said having a fitness or wellness center or a physical activity program targeting older adults attracted more residents or members. And 93% said these programs retained their clients.

"Age-friendly fitness options are a great business driver," pointed out Colin Milner, CEO of ICAA. "Most active adult communities include wellness centers as part of their planned communities. This survey shows that there is a tremendous benefit to other types of seniors housing, fitness facilities and publicly-sponsored community programs by adding age-targeted programs."

An issue faced by many organizations is financing older adult programs. Creativity is the solution, according to survey respondents: 39% use two to five methods of paying for the program, while 61% use only one. The most popular methods are: charging a fee per use/session, selling memberships, and building program cost into community fees.

"The population of older adults is so large that virtually every private and public sector must appeal to them," commented Milner. "Active aging means older adults participate fully in their lives through wellness activities. The enormous demographic shift in the number of older adults and the buying power of the Baby Boomers (over $2 trillion) offers unprecedented opportunities for those who meet and exceed their needs."

The ICAA survey, "Marketing value and financing methods," was conducted in October 2005 and included responses from retirement communities and seniors housing (27%), fitness or wellness centers and health clubs (25%), personal training (11%) and Area Agencies on Aging (8%), among other types of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.

The complete results of the survey are available in the ICAA members-only section of and in the newly-released research report Active Aging in America, Volume 1. Residential and Commercial Fitness, United States 2005. This report is the first compilation of data profiling 12 industries that serve the health and well-being of the older adult.

For more information on ICAA membership and the Active Aging in America research report, visit the ICAA web site at or call 866-335-9777 or 604-734-4466.

About the International Council on Active Aging

The ICAA is the world's largest membership association dedicated to changing the way we age by uniting and working with professionals in the retirement, assisted living, recreation, fitness, rehabilitation and wellness fields. We connect a community of like-minded professionals who share the goals of changing society's perceptions of aging and improving the quality of life for Baby Boomers and older adults within the six dimensions of wellness (emotional, vocational, physical, spiritual, intellectual, social).

Media contact:

Colin Milner, CEO, International Council on Active Aging

Toll-free: 866-335-9777 (in North America); tel: 604-734-4466; cell: 604-763-4595

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