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all day without warming up and have no fear of straining a tendon or overworking a joint. That’s not the case for older adults who need to stretch in order to stay limber. Regular stretching will increase your range of motion while reducing your chances of injury—a win-win. Begin by warming up your muscles with dynamic stretches like arm circles or walking in place. Once your blood is flowing, move to static stretches that require you to hold a position. Areas like the calves, hamstrings, shoulders, neck, and back are particularly important to stretch. BALANCE EXERCISES Balance is the result of many systems — vision, the vestibular system, leg muscles, body mechanics —working with one another. As we get older, these systems suffer wear and tear and begin to break down. Balance exercises allow you to keep these systems healthy and well-functioning.
Some types of exercise, like yoga and tai chi, help maintain your balance. They’re also incredibly easy to start at any point in your life because they don’t have a high barrier to entry. Even if you don’t have balance issues, you may want to consider trying them out. Alternatively, those already dealing with problems should consult a physical therapist, who will provide you with a specific set of exercises designed to recover your lost balance. BOTH/AND, NOT EITHER/OR Many sources will tell you that one type of exercise reigns supreme. The problem with this thinking is that it inhibits all the advantages you can gain from a multifaceted fitness plan. There’s no rule that states you can only pick one or two of the four essential types of exercise, so why limit yourself? Like a balanced diet, the best fitness system is the one that covers all the bases.
Where aerobic exercise targets the cardiovascular systems, strength training is all about building muscle mass. “Regular strength training will help you feel more confident and capable of daily tasks like carrying groceries, gardening, and lifting heavy objects around the house. Strength training will also help you stand up from a chair, get up off the floor, and go upstairs,” says Wilson. You don’t need to lift massive amounts of weight to get the benefits of strength training. Bodyweight exercises, like squats and pushups, are a great way to strength train. Because muscle mass is actually built during rest periods, be sure to schedule recovery days each week. STRETCHING
When you’re young, it’s easy to take flexibility for granted. Amiddle schooler can run around
SAFE AND SWEET Allergy-Friendly Valentines for Your Child’s Classmates
For a parent of a child with allergies, every day can feel like a battle with food labels and ingredients lists — and Valentine’s Day only exacerbates this fear. Avoid the danger of an allergic reaction on Valentine’s Day by creating alternative, candy-free valentines that the whole class will enjoy! GET CREATIVE This valentine idea taps into your kids’ desire to create by using commonly found household items. Have your children draw pictures, create cards, mold tiny sculptures, or braid together friendship bracelets to create one-of-a-kind gifts that will be safe for their classmates to enjoy. Kids can put their own effort into gift-giving, and their valentines will have a personal touch candy cannot replicate. THINK LIKE A KID If you’re looking for a creative valentine that will be safe for all your child’s friends to play with, check no further than the toy aisle of your local dollar store. While being mindful of latex allergies, you can purchase little toys that kids will love that won’t break your bank. Think bouncy balls, mini skateboards, Army men, yo-yos, puzzles, rubber
ducks, hand-held games, markers, or bubbles. Adorn these little gifts with yarn, ribbons, or personalized tags, and slap on cute sayings to make them fit for the holiday. Finish off the masterpiece by having your kiddo sign their name on each valentine, and you’ve got a kid-approved Valentine’s Day favorite. FANCY UP SOME FRUIT If you’re worried about food allergies but still want to make a yummy treat, ask your child’s teacher for a list of students’ allergies, then just work around them. Fruits are usually a safe bet, but it’s best to double check. You could skewer strawberries and heart-shaped pieces of watermelon onto kabob sticks for a sweet and fun snack, or pass out goody bags with apples, bananas, and clementines. Offering a group snack that is allergy-friendly will keep your children and their friends safe and healthy, and it can also help children with allergies feel included in the festivities. As with all Valentine’s Day gifts, keep in mind that it’s not the item or money spent that means the most. It’s the thought behind each gift that makes receiving valentines the sweetest part.
2 • risingsunphysicaltherapy.com
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