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As a Halifax mom to two young children (aged 5 and 7) myself, I think it is fair to say that most of us are amazed at how much energy those little bodies can spend in a day!  Keeping up with them on a daily basis has impacted my overall fitness level.  

Taking care of young children can provide a fitness benefit but can also over-task our abilities based on our level of fitness.  I have found it really important to optimize my level of functional fitness to be able to chase my children around Halifax for the last few years!  If they do not have enough functional fitness to keep up with them, the safety of Halifax seniors may be at risk when playing with their grandchildren.  

Children are by nature carefree and tend not to fully understand (or care!) about the consequences of their actions.  As their bodies grow and they improve their fitness, they get heavier, stronger and faster.  As a result, they can quite easily (and accidentally) injure others.  I have seen this be true for a number of my physiotherapy clients in Halifax, NS.  Maintaining a strong level of functional fitness can help Halifax seniors play with their grandchildren more enjoyably and more safely.  

Here are my best tips for reducing risk of injury when making memories with grandchildren:

1 – Build Functional Fitness

Halifax seniors must ensure they have the right fitness for the task they are doing.  Our bodies get better at the actions or functional movements that they practice; Accordingly, Halifax seniors need to ensure they follow a fitness plan that includes functional strengthening exercises.  Functional exercises include activities like squats, step-ups and push-ups.  Of course, like any exercise, the level of difficulty in these functional movements should be individualized to the person doing them.  Professional guidance is key in ensuring the safety and appropriateness of a new fitness routine for Halifax seniors.

2- Choose Activities in Halifax Based on YOUR Functional Fitness Level

The types of games that Halifax seniors play with their grandchildren should be ones that are well-suited to their level of functional fitness.  For instance, if knee osteoarthritis limits their leg strength, opting for a game that requires less functional leg strength is important.  Choosing a game of frisbee instead of soccer would be a wise decision.

3 – Pace Activities 

Even with a good base of functional fitness, maintaining the level of intensity required to keep up with their seemingly endless energy can be a challenge!  It is important that Halifax seniors take rest breaks from physical activities that challenge their fitness to allow the heart, lungs, muscles, and joints to recover throughout the day.  

Ideally, activities should be switched every 20-30 minutes; preferably going back and forth between activities that require higher and lower levels of fitness.  This variety will reduce the likelihood of Halifax seniors getting significantly fatigued regardless of the functional movements or activities being done.  When the body gets tired and Is working beyond its level of fitness consistently, we often lose focus and are at most risk for injuries like joint sprains and muscle strains.  

4 – Lift Safely

For Halifax seniors whose grandchildren are still in the “lift-hug” or carrying phase, they should pause for a moment before reaching down and scooping them up.  If the grandchildren are big enough, they should do part of the functional movement.  For example, the grandchild can climb up onto the couch or bed to be lifted from a higher height.  Also, from whatever height they are being lifted, Halifax seniors should hold them as close to their bodies as possible.  These strategies can significantly reduce the strain on your back.  If doing a lot of this lifting work, Halifax seniors should consider the addition of a lifting exercise into their functional fitness programs.

Building functional fitness is clearly a key strategy that Halifax seniors can employ to get the most out of their time with their grandchildren, Understanding how to choose, execute and pace their activities based on their fitness level gives Halifax seniors the power to reduce their risk of injury while making memories with their grandchildren.

Zoomers physiotherapists help seniors in Halifax build their functional fitness based on their individual needs.  Getting a plan that is tailored to their starting level of fitness, can help Halifax seniors ensure they get the most out of their functional fitness routine.

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