Children and Seniors Alike

Today I would like to address exercise for senior citizens and those of you with children.  Let’s begin by discussing the benefits and recommendations for both age groups, followed by a few ideas for each.

Benefits and Recommendations for Children

To begin with,  current recommendations state that children and adolescents (ages 6-20) should get 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day.  This can include aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening activities.  The benefits of this amount of activity include reduced risk of chronic disease, lower risk of sports injury, and reduced risk of obesity.

Benefits and Recommendations for Seniors

According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, by the middle of this century an estimated 87 million people, or approximately 21% of the entire U.S. population will be 65 years of age or older.  Physiological and functional changes that come with aging include reductions in:

  • Maximal attainable heart rate
  • Cardiac output
  • Muscle Mass
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Connective tissue elasticity
  • Bone mineral density

It has been demonstrated that many of the structural deficits responsible for decreased functional capacity in older adults, including loss of muscle strength and neural proprioception, can be slowed and even reversed through participating in routine physical activity and exercise.

Activities for Children

Before embarking on activities with your children, it is important to keep in mind that a child’s tolerance to environmental extremes, especially heat and humidity, is decreased.  Therefore, it is even more important to maintain a good hydration level and keep an eye on how fatigued they become during higher-intensity activities.  Also, children have a decreased ability to perform longer duration, high-intensity tasks.  With these factors in mind, here are a few activities to try with your child:

  • Walking, jogging, running
  • Sports
  • Resistance training: 1-2 sets of 8-12 repetitions with 40-70% weights 2-3 days per week
  • Red light, Green light
  • 10 push-ups
  • Stretching

Activities for Seniors

Keep in mind that balance, gait, and neuromuscular coordination may be impaired, so always have a second person around to ensure safety.

  • Stationary or recumbent cycling
  • Aquatic exercise
  • Treadmill with handrail
  • Sitting and standing into a chair
  • Walking outdoors
  • Resistance training with low weight to begin: 1-3 sets of 8-10 exercise with 8-20 reps each.

Remember, a person is never too young or too old to begin caring about their health!

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