How To Keep Up With the Grandkids

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Hanging out with the grandkids can be real exercise. Its not always easy for Grandma to keep up with energetic youngsters who are constantly on the go.

For many seniors, doing even the simplest physical activities can be difficult. According to the report National Blueprint: Increasing Physical Activity Among Adults Aged 50 or Older, 35 to 50 percent of women ages 70 to 80 have difficulty with general mobility tasks such as walking a few blocks, climbing stairs or doing housework. The Surgeon General reports that 50 percent of women age 75 and older engage in no leisure time physical activity.

Sharyn Pak is changing that. As a certified personal trainer, Sharyn specializes in motivating senior women to become more active so that they have the physical ability, aerobic endurance and confidence not just to exercise, but to perform everyday activities.

Its called functional fitness; the ability to stay active and be active on a day-to-day basis. Senior women want to be able to do things like go to the mall with their granddaughters and not have to sit down twice because their legs are tired, she said. People want to be active and not be perceived as old. Its about looking graceful and staying fit.

Sharyn, who began her business Bringing Fitness to You in 1992, designs programs for her clients that are specifically tailored to their needs. For example, one client wanted to learn how to swim so she could spend time with her grandkids at the pool, so Sharyn taught her. All programs include the following five elements:

Nutritional Guidance
Cardiovascular/Aerobic Fitness
Resistance/Weight Training
Abdominal/Lower Back Strengthening
Flexibility Stretching/Static Stretching

Exercises may consist of simple maneuvers that can be completed in the home. A chair, for instance, can serve as a piece of exercise equipment. Getting up from a chair repeatedly without using ones arms is essentially squat.

Sturdy chairs or coffee tables without wheels can be great places to perform tricep dips. With arms planted behind the body on the seat of a chair or edge of a coffee table, one can work the muscles along the back of the arms by lowering his or her body up and down.

Stairs can be a great place for push-ups. Using the third or fourth step as the push-off point, the slight inclination makes the push-up a little easier than those done on the floor. But they’re also a bit more challenging than push-ups done vertically against a wall, Pak said.

Two of the most common excuses people give for not exercising are that they dont have time and they dont have the money to buy equipment or go to the gym, said Pak. But you dont need any of those things to get a good workout. Using pieces of furniture around your home, you can develop a workout of 15 minutes or less that will help you strengthen muscles and improve flexibility. Other exercises include the use of low-impact aerobics, and modified versions of sports like kick-boxing and mountain-biking.

Its not about how many miles a person can walk, its about building up aerobic endurance, so that someone can run five or six errands at one time and not get tired, said Sharyn. When people retire, their strength can diminish. Its important to use exercise to strengthen bones and muscles and lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugars.

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