If you are ready to set yourself apart from other trainers and programs working with older adults, then consider adding cognitive fitness to your training repertoire. It is the next big paradigm shift in fitness and here’s why:
  • The number of adults age 65+ is going to continue to grow for the next 50 years
  • The number of older adults with either dementia or mild cognitive impairment is expected to almost double by the year 2050
  • Older adults consistently report that losing their cognitive abilities is their BIGGEST HEALTH FEAR – more than losing their physical abilities and even more than dying
First of all, almost ANY type of exercise is good for the brain – even basic cardio and strength exercises – because they support brain health through increased cerebral blood flow and the release of neurotransmitters like BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor). Exercises (like dance) that require coordination, balance and agility are even better because they require a greater degree of sensory input, processing and motor output. Playing sports is even better because it stimulates higher-level cognitive processes such as planning, decision-making, spatial awareness and reaction. However, in a fitness setting the optimal strategy is dual-tasking.

Dual-tasking involves performing two tasks simultaneously – either two motor tasks or a motor task combined with a cognitive task. This is NOT the same as multi-tasking when you try to perform two or more cognitive tasks simultaneously. Many trainers are already including some basic dual-tasking challenges by having their clients count backwards by 7’s or answer some basic math questions while they perform an exercise, BUT these are just barely scratching the surface of what is possible. There are MANY different techniques and strategies that can be implemented to improve a wide range of cognitive abilities.

To learn more about how to use dual-tasking strategies with your clients, consider becoming a certified Brain Fitness Specialist through the Functional Aging Institute and ISSA.

Better yet, open your own cognitive fitness facility. Marbles Brain Body Fitness is a one-of-a-kind “brain first” fitness franchise that leverages innovative dual-tasking technologies to deliver customized programming in a fun, supportive environment. To learn more, visit

Cody Sipe has an extensive background in the fitness industry with 20 years of experience as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, program director, exercise physiologist and club owner. He is currently an Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Research in the physical therapy program at Harding University. He has spent his career researching, developing and practicing the most effective training strategies to improve function in older adults. He has completed certifications as an ACSM Exercise Specialist, ACSM Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist, FallProof Balance and Mobility Enhancement Specialist and more. His secondary area of expertise is in the prevention and management of chronic disease conditions, especially those that accompany the aging process such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. In 2005 he was honored with the IDEA Program Director of the Year award.