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Keeping Your Loved Ones Exercising at Every Age

Posted on May 28, 2013

If you’re taking care of loved ones who span the generations, it’s helpful to find exercise activities that are healthy and appealing to everyone. Equally important is finding activities that are safe and checking in with everyone’s doctor to make sure an exercise program is advisable, especially for older adults.

Keeping Your Loved Ones Exercising at Every Age

If there are seniors in your circle of loved ones, keep in mind that the National Institute on Aging recommends that seniors engage in some level of four different types of exercises that are good forms of exercises for people of all ages: endurance activities; strengthening exercises; stretching exercises; and balance exercises. Check in with your healthcare provider about what type of exercises your loved ones should be doing particularly if they suffer from osteoporosis or any other condition that might put them at risk for falls or breaking a bone.

Endurance activities are those that work your heart and circulatory system. They are aerobic and include such activities as walking, swimming, or riding a bike.

Strengthening exercises also are a win-win for you and your older loved one.This category of exercise builds muscle tissue and helps reduce age-related muscle loss. These exercises make your muscles stronger by helping to make them less susceptible to injuries and better able to support all areas of your body from your spine neck to your legs.

With strengthening exercises, your muscles get a workout by moving against resistance from a variety of sources – free weights, elastic bands, or even your own body weight. Think push-ups. Stretching exercises keep us limber and flexible. The best time to stretch is after working out. One’s age and health dictate what exercises can be done. If you are exercising as a family and everyone is stretching an arm muscle, for example, an older loved one might need to sit while doing the stretch. If it is a stretching move that puts your loved one at risk for falling, they would have to skip it altogether.

For everyone’s sake, balance exercises are part of a good exercise program because they help to reduce the chances of a fall. It is estimated that one in three adults 65 and older will suffer a fall, so performing balance exercises should really be a lifelong lifestyle choice.

Younger adults might find leg lifts, done while standing upright, to be a good exercise. The same exercise could be done by an older adult from the comfort of a chair.

A physical therapist can help to design an exercise plan that will meet the needs of all your family members.

Courtesy of Jeff Erickson, physical therapist and director of Physical Therapy at the Saint Peter’s Sports Medicine Institute, part of the Saint Peter’s Healthcare System. For more information, visit or call 732-565-5455.