Ron Zalko Fitness

Baby Boomers Shape Up for the long haul

Ron Zalko, founder of Ron Zalko Fitness and Yoga in Kitsilano and founder of Ironman Canada, says he’s seen an increase in the number of older people coming to the gym during the past few years.


“Baby boomers are very aware of the benefits of fitness as they age,” Zalko says by phone. “If you look at every single research study out there today about heart disease or cardiovascular problems, they all say to exercise and eat well. It’s always the same message. That’s my message to the public too: stay active and eat well.”

Zalko, 64, who himself regularly runs, cycles, and takes yoga and Pilates classes, notes that aside from playing a role in preventing everything from cancer to diabetes, physical activity is especially important in helping ward off dementia. Just one hour of exercise a week can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by almost half, according to a landmark study published last year in the Lancet Neurology journal. The research identified exercise as offering the most significant protection against the condition.

Stress is another factor that’s drawing older adults to the gym, Zalko says.

“Pressure and stress are really building up in people’s lives,” he notes. “Everybody’s rushing. They’re getting emails in the middle of the night. They come to release the stress, because stress can kill you. It wasn’t like that 20 years ago, when things were a little more relaxed and the mailman came at noon, Monday to Friday.”

Zalko suggests that people incorporate cardiovascular exercise as well as strength training into their fitness routine, along with core conditioning and stretching. He also notes that cardiovascular exercise doesn’t have to mean running; it can be a brisk walk, “enough to bring the heart rate up”. Weight training is especially important for women because it reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

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