Friday, May 3, 2013

Fitness Friday: Senior Edition

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Other than my recent mention that I've been busy moving offices, I don't talk much (at all) about my day job in this space. But when I'm wearing my lawyer hat, I specialize in legal issues for seniors.  Which means that my web, magazine, and book reading on a given day really runs life's gamut - from the baby and kid tips and activities I stash away to use at home with my kids, to helpful advice for my elderly clients (and, more particularly, their families) to make life easier.

One of the senior living communities I work with on occasion published a great list of senior fitness tips last year that I've been passing on to some of my clients, and it inspired me to devote a Fitness Friday to those folks in our lives who are, perhaps, less mobile or more limited in the ways they can move, but still want and deserve to maintain their health.  So before you close your browser window, pause and think of someone you know who can no longer jog down the street or throw around dumbbells like they used to.  Now read on - maybe you'll find something you can pass along and give the gift of health to a senior in your life.

1. Water, water everywhere! Without exception, the gerontologists and physical therapists I meet with in the course of helping my clients agree: water exercise is one of the best, safest ways to retain a basic fitness level and stave off some age-related illnesses.  It is no-impact, and joint-friendly.  Many fitness facilities, YMCAs, and even community senior centers now offer organized water exercise classes.  And while I can't deliver a pool to your inbox, these activity descriptions are a good place to start if you can find a pool for your senior loved one.

2. Chair cardio - sit down and sweat! Although a lot of the fitness emphasis for the aging population is geared toward prevention of osteoporosis in women through strength training, cardiovascular health remains vitally important to both genders as they age.

BONUS for you: chair cardio is a great option for people of all ages as well when recovering from an injury or surgery.

3. Yoga - because you're never too old to get your OM on!  Yoga is great for its multiple benefits: some resistance training can be involved, along with stretching, relaxation, and even raising the heart rate.  Most of the seniors I work with are wheelchair bound, so even gentle traditional yoga on a mat won't work for them. This chair yoga is like a lot of the yoga I'm seeing taught in senior communities and at adult day care centers.

I'd love to hear how you help the seniors in your life stay active! Please share with me in the comments below!

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