Necessary Fitness Finds
For a caregiver helping a loved one choose basic home fitness equipment, the first step is to discuss goals, and then products needed to reach them.
National organizations have established guidelines for older adults’ exercise programs. The basic recommendation is 30 minutes of aerobic activity five days a week, with muscle-strengthening activities added in.
The average senior doesn’t have the workout history of Jane Fonda, so light exercises are adequate and advised. Leave the heavy, specialized equipment for the pros. Caregivers must remind a loved one to consult their physician before starting any program as medical issues may be a consideration. Each person will have a target heart rate, level of activity and duration of exercise unique to their life and health scenario.
For this reason, a heart rate monitor is the first piece of equipment a caregiver should recommend to a loved one. A too strenuous exercise may lead to injury or exhaustion, but not pushing oneself hard enough is ineffective. A heart rate monitor helps a loved one chart their workouts, and maintain a heart rate that is healthy and effective for them. To find a maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 200. Calculating 80 percent and 85 percent of this number provides the target heart rate range.
These come in a variety of resistance levels (and colors to represent them). This makes resistance bands a nice fitness fit for loved ones with many stages of abilities, beginners and advanced. The resistance helps build muscle like hand weights, and they are also easy to store.
An exercise ball also is available in sizes, and helps a loved one increase balance. These are used for abdominal workouts and stretches or used in conjunction with hand weights. Exercise balls can be a benefit to more-defined abs, but also better posture and less back pain with good spinal health.
Professionals say that weights up to five pounds are a safe limit for senior citizens looking to do strength training. Weight can be increased over time, gradually, but this should be supervised by a professional to avoid injury.
A recumbent bike is an excellent addition to a senior’s fitness practice. It is not very tiring, but a nice cardiovascular exercise. It has a backrest to help avoid back strain and is usually a welcome item for an aging loved one. A treadmill also falls into the category of cardiovascular exercise and is a good fit for those still able to walk well and for longer periods.
Last but not least, workout DVDs for all levels and interests are available to help a loved one mix up their fitness sessions. A caregiver is a central player in a loved one’s fitness plan and health. A home program is easy to put together and affordable equipment accessible to a caregiver who is happy to look past the TV screen.
Today’s Caregiver magazine (caregiver.com), launched in 1995, is the first national magazine for all family and professional caregivers. Each issue includes articles on vital caregiving issues and caregiving resources. Cover interviews include Debbie Reynolds, Dixie Carter, Valerie Harper, Della Reese and Clay Aiken, among many others. © Caregiver.com, Inc.