By Haley Burress United States
Group exercise and movement is a crucial staple of a well-rounded activity program. It offers the opportunity for residents to move intentionally, working on fine and large motor skills, as well as improving strength, flexibility, endurance, and range of motion.
Thanks to exercise being easily adaptable and social, it is often a daily part of the activity program at most communities. Morning exercise gives residents a chance to get moving after breakfast, visit with friends, and hear what’s going on for the rest of the day from activity staff.
However, daily exercise can get a bit redundant if you are doing the same things each time you gather your group. Your activity staff can get bored or complacent, and your participants won’t get as many of the physical or cognitive benefits of exercise if it is always the same.
Keep your program spiced up with a few of our tips. Remember, you don’t have to implement all of these at the same time. Try adding new parts every once in a while to keep things interesting for all involved.
Begin to energize your exercise program by adding new styles of movement. While the traditional Sit and Be Fit exercise groups are excellent, you can also introduce something new perhaps weekly or monthly to add interest to your exercise program. You may even find that different participants come along to try it, and that is great! New movement could reach a new audience.
Remember, movement doesn’t always have to come from a structured group exercise class. Try some of these fun ideas for movement in a game setting.
Another easy way to change up your exercise class quickly, and without teaching your activity staff a new exercise technique is to change the music that you use. When running an exercise class, your music selection truly sets the tone for the class - will it be relaxing and restorative or energizing and upbeat?
You can vary your music selection and stock up your music source (iPod, CD player, Amazon playlist, etc.) based on:
Sometimes it just takes a bit of forethought to purchase a handful of new items to use as props to make your exercise class feel more exciting. Keep props in a bin to pull out when things feel a bit dull or drab, and search your activity closet for items you may already have that you can use as props during exercise classes.
Use your props to encourage new movement and make old movements more visually interesting. Try to theme props to match your music for an extra-fun class that will seem like a performance.
Consider inviting a guest facilitator once per month. Give your staff members a break from leading and encourage your team to participate instead to learn new approaches from other instructors throughout the community. Look for guest instructors at:
You can also invite people within your community to lead exercise every once in awhile. It’s fun for the residents and it can be enjoyable for the guest instructor too. Just be sure to give the guest instructor plenty of preparation time and resources so they can be successful. Ideas could be:
Finally, you can also get inspiration and learn new ways to facilitate exercise class by using technology. Try using a YouTube video to lead group exercise a few times per month. This can be especially helpful when you are trying out new exercises, like yoga or tai chi. Search for senior-specific movement, and be sure you screen it first to see if your residents will enjoy it.
Finally, if your community serves residents with a wide variety of abilities and challenges, one big group exercise class once per day may not be meeting everyone’s needs. Instead, you may consider diversifying your groups to better serve some of your seniors.
You can implement this by keeping your current group exercise class (if it is well attended), and adding:
Group exercise is such a wonderful way to reach residents daily. Have you ever been bored or noticed your program getting a bit stagnant? I’d love to hear your own ways of keeping things exciting for you and your residents. Tell me in the comments the tips that worked for you so that I can add them to my own list of things to try!