Women 55 to 70+ Stats and Facts

The Numbers

  • In 2016, women 55-70 made up 19.2% of the total female population and women over age 55 made up 31.5% of the total female population.
  • Although they were a significant proportion of the female population in 2016, the 55-70 age group is expected to increase to 21.1% of the total female population in 2021 and continue to be over 20% well into 2031.
    Statistics Canada. 2016. CANSIM, table 051-0001. Accessed September 17, 2017 at: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/demo10a-eng.htm

Building Competence in Women 55 to 70+

  • Offer skill-training opportunities, try-it sessions, and regular orientations: Skill development and try-it sessions tend to be focused on children, but for women who are just starting out these sessions are very important for gaining confidence. The same goes with orientations. When people join a gym, they usually get one orientation session on how to use equipment, where things are, etc., but never again. Providing regular orientations that encourage questions will allow women to feel confident and competent to try new things.
  • Provide specific, descriptive feedback: Knowing what to observe and where to observe is critical in providing feedback. If you can observe, the next step is to give feedback to the participant that will help her succeed. This requires simple, specific feedback. If the feedback is understood, competence will be built as well as confidence from the individual accomplishing the task.
  • Train instructors to read medical forms, understand health conditions, and adapt activities: Many women 55 to 70+ are dealing with different medical conditions or injuries or just don’t feel comfortable trying something new because they think they will get hurt. It is important that instructors and coaches understand these limitations, talk about them openly (e.g., if anyone has high blood pressure, try this instead of this), and offer adaptations.
  • Offer a variety of activities: Not everyone is good at everything so offer different activities for women 55 to 70+ to build confidence. Be sure to point out when someone is doing something well to help reinforce her own levels of competence in an activity.

Building Confidence in Women 55 to 70+

  • Develop women-only programs: Women feel comfortable exercising with other women. This is particularly true in sport as women gain confidence in playing in female-only environments. Competing against men can be motivating for some women who are already confident/competent, but for most women it is intimidating.
  • Create environments that are welcoming: Just getting to the activity can be a major challenge for many women 55 to 70+ so be sure that environments are welcoming by introducing yourself, ensuring staff are trained to say hello, and creating ice breakers in your programs to allow participants to get to know one another. This will help build confidence and motivation to continue participating.
  • Recruit more women 55 to 70+ to become instructors and coaches: Women 55 to 70+ continually report how much they enjoy instructors and coaches their own age, as they feel they ‘understand’ their limitations, interests in music, etc.
  • Explain programs so women know what to expect: Women 55 to 70+ want to know more than just the location and time of a program. They want to know what to wear, if they need a mat, if it is for women only, the level of intensity, etc. The more information that can be included the better, so that women are confident they will be prepared and ready to participate.
  • Ask women what they want before developing programs for them: Involving women 55 to 70+ in your planning for them is very important. This will ensure the programs you develop are of interest to the women, and they will encourage others to participate. As active members in the planning process, they will also feel confident to suggest changes/adaptations, new activities, levels, and competitions — a true partnership.

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Building Motivation for Women 55 to 70+

  • Developing a routine: Incorporating activity as part of a regular routine becomes a habit for many women and a big part of their lives. Keeping to their routine is important to them.
  • Goals/rewards: Setting goals or trying to achieve a reward is an incentive and motivator for many women.
  • Having a buddy: Having someone to do things with is motivational.
  • Cost savings: Money-saving incentives encourage women to participate in physical activity. Joining programs might seem expensive, but if tax incentives or discounts, are offered they can become much more affordable.
  • Invitation: Personally invite women to participate to make it special. Women are more interested in being invited than getting generic flyers.
  • Having fun: One of the most frequently mentioned reasons women say they participate in physical activity or sport was because it was fun. Laughing and having fun are huge motivators for women.
  • Improved health: Improved health is a motivator. Women who felt better, had more energy, and saw improvements (better circulation, less arthritis pain, etc.) were motivated to continue participating.
  • Competitions, events or challenges: Competitions, events, or challenges are motivators for many women.
  • Keeping a log or journal: Keeping a daily journal or logging activities on a calendar or in a notebook can be a major motivator for some women. Women who make appointments with themselves do not want to break them, and many just hate not being able to write something in for the day. The visual nature of the log or journal makes it impossible to ignore missing scheduled activity.
  • Music: Having good music playing in the background is considered a motivator by many women.
  • Progress: Seeing progress in yourself and others is very motivating. It could be losing weight, feeling better, or being able to shovel your driveway. Any time women see progress in themselves or others, it is motivational. It is also important to celebrate progress, no matter how small.