The Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies consists of numerous courses that address the benefits of exercise and its effects on the human body. One of the courses that the department offers is titled Exercise and Aging (01:377:304). As the baby boomer population continues to age and life expectancy increases, it becomes increasingly important to learn about the population. Exercise and Aging is a three credit elective course that addresses the beneficial effects of exercise for the older population as well as the physical, psychological, and demographic characteristics of the older population. Can the elder population exercise? What special considerations must be made for seniors to exercise in a healthy and safe manner? What are some professional opportunities in the field of geriatrics? These are just some of the questions that the course aims to answer.
The Center for Exercise and Aging is an extension of the Exercise and Aging class. The Center is the mechanism by which the course "comes to life." The students, through the visits by seniors, and the outreach to them in the community, understand the seniors as a group and understand the physical strengths and weaknesses of the seniors, thereby getting a better understanding of the process of aging both from a generic point of view and as a way to understand their own aging future. The course and the Center provide the students with the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge and gain practical experience working with an age group that many will work with during their professional careers, i.e., as physical and occupational therapists, geriatric doctors, directors of programming in community senior centers, assisted living facilities, etc.
Working as a team, Dr. Kaplowitz, her Teaching Assistants, and the Exercise and Aging class of each term coordinate and carry out a variety of intergenerational programs. Every year since its inception in 2001, there have been multiple opportunities and requests for our participation. The Center itself has grown with new ideas, events and research that have been shared with students and seniors alike. We have truly become an advocate for older adults, as well as our own Rutgers students gaining an understanding of the importance of, and the pursuit of, fitness and health for the older generation.