Health & Wellness

East Brunswick Seniors: Exercise Program Sparks New Life

Ruth Gottlieb shows off the results of daily strength training. Credits: Nick Romenenko, Rutgers University

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - For Ruth Gottlieb, 82, and Jean Timper, 85, and members at the East Brunswick Senior Center, exercise is the high point of their day. What gets them most excited? Line dancing.


“I even dance around the house. When I’m vacuuming or cooking, I just stop and dance around and stretch. I like to be flexible,” says Gottlieb, a former teacher who says her only regular exercise before retirement was running after students.


Since 2002, the friends have kept moving through programs designed by Rutgers’ Center for Exercising and Aging, in which students lead seniors in activities ranging from strength training to aerobics. “If I had not been exercising all these years, I don’t think I’d be here or doing as great as I am,” says Timper.

Sign Up for E-News


The center, which celebrates 15 years this year, was founded by Susan Kaplowitz, a teaching professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Rutgers’ School of Arts and Sciences. As a personal trainer specializing in older adults, Kaplowitz realized that her students – primarily exercise science majors – would benefit from a course that taught them the importance of exercise in the aging population.


“I wanted to provide a course that would prepare them for careers that involved geriatrics,” she says. “Plus, I thought it would be a great way to apply our knowledge to benefit the local community.”


Kaplowitz launched the program with the participation of her own clients as she reached out to local senior centers and assisted living facilities, such as the East Brunswick Senior Center and Monroe Village in Monroe Township. The organizations partner with the program by allowing students to work with their members on-site or sending seniors to gyms on the Cook/Douglass campus for exercise classes throughout the year.


“Seniors visit centers mainly to socialize. It’s an important part of their day,” Kaplowitz says. “The program allows them to socialize and build their self-confidence as they see their strength improve. Many of our participants have not exercised before, especially in strength training.”


Exercise helps older adults maintain daily functions, Kaplowitz notes. “The most important exercises focus on the lower body to improve balance since seniors are prone to falls,” she says. “Cardiovascular exercise is also essential. As people age, muscle mass decreases and body fat composition increases, which can lead to conditions like diabetes. Cardio can improve body composition and endurance and allow seniors to perform daily tasks without losing breath.”


Strength training improves flexibility; when seniors keep moving, their joints stay mobile, helping to prevent osteoarthritis and assisting them in activities like moving their head easier when driving.


“I’ve seen many 80-year-olds who are more fit than 50-year-olds. It doesn’t matter how athletic you once were, when your body ages, you need to exercise to maintain it,” says teaching assistant Bella Bulsara, who will graduate this spring with a bachelor’s of science degree and continue on to graduate school to become a physical therapist. “The most important goal is to preserve the ability to perform simple tasks, like lifting your arms and walking, without losing breath. Each person has his or her own constraints. The students learn how to tailor exercises to the individual, even when leading a large group.”


Last year, the center began a collaboration with Rutgers’ School of Health Professions, in which Aging Track program director Tracy Davis brings her perspective as a researcher in gerontology as an instructor and guest lecturer. In the future, Kaplowitz envisions more collaborations with the school.


The students perform community outreach as well. Since 2009, they have helped supervise the New Jersey Senior Olympics in Woodbridge and participated in the  Middlesex County Run/Walk by hosting programs on balance, performing fitness tests and offering games.


“I bubble over when I exercise with the students. They give great pointers,” says Millie Holder, 93, a resident at Monroe Village. “It’s so important to keep as active as possible for your ability – even if you’re just moving your fingers. The students help me zero in on arthritis; I roll a ball up my arm with one finger, squeeze a ball or use stretch bands, but chair aerobics is my favorite.”


Exercise has improved Holder’s stamina. “I used to think it was such long walk to my apartment. Now, I run from my home to the auditorium,” she says. “Being active every day is the best thing that has ever happened to me.” 



TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

East Brunswick

East Brunswick's Girl Scouts Work with a Young Woman's Busy Schedule

March 21, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Have you wanted to join a Girl Scout troop, but just don't have the time? Check out this out. Busy teens can be Independent Girl Scouts -- all the programs and awards without the scheduled troop meetings. Teen girls can do badge work, attend events, travel, earn awards or do community service on their own time. (And ...

Murphy’s Puerto Rico Relief Commission Looks to Connect Families to Resources

PERTH AMBOY - Stephanie Márquez-Villafañe, president of the student-based Puerto Rican action group Rutgers Unión Estudiantil Puertorriqueña, offers a sobering assessment of New Jersey’s Puerto Rican student community in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. territory in recorded history.

"University students have ...

12th Annual Interfaith Conference – Women in Islam on March 25

March 23, 2018

 MONROE, NJ -  Muslims for Peace, Inc. proudly announces the presentation of the 12th Annual Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Interfaith Conference – Women in Islam: A Dialogue.

The Conference will be held on Sunday, March 25, 2018 at Rutgers’ Cook Campus Student Center, 54 Biel Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. This year’s Conference will be hosted by Anisa Diab and ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, March 23, 8:00 PM

State Theatre New Jersey , New Brunswick

Motown the Musical

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, March 24, 8:30 AM

East Brunswick

Spinathon 2018


Sat, April 7, 2:00 PM

State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

Arts & Entertainment

EBPL Book and Media Sale April 9-14

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—The East Brunswick Friends of Library hos their 44th annual Book and Media Sale in the Centre Court of Brunswick Square Mall (755 State Route 18, East Brunswick) this April 9-15.

The sale runs through the mall's normal hours of operations. Monday, April 9 through Saturday, April 14 (from 10 am to 9:30 pm) and Sunday, April 15 (11 ...

EBPL: Addressing Sexual Violence through Education & Empowerment

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) hosts a special two-part program “Addressing Sexual Violence through Education & Empowerment” on Wednesday, April 4 from 7 to 9 pm.

The first part of the program is the presentation ”Sexual Violence” with Jennifer Kurdyla, MSW, of Middlesex County Office of Health Services and ...

East Brunswick Public Library Hosts “The Jews of Tsarist Russia and Bessarabia Before the Holocaust” Program

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) presents the fifth installment in the series “The Jews of Eastern Europe Before The Holocaust” on April 8 at 2:30 pm.

“The intent of the series is to bring to light the legacy of my Jewish ancestors, prior to their annihilation during the Shoah,” said Dr. Michael G. Kesler, ...

Need a Passport? Save Money by Getting It Before April 2

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—If you are planning to get a new United States passport, you can save $10 by submitting your application at the East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) before Monday, April 2.

The cost of a passport’s execution fee is rising from $25 to $35. The fee increase is mandated by the Department of State for any passport application submitted to ...

Queen Mary and the Cruiser

Queen Mary and the Cruiser by David A. Thomas and Patrick Holmes (Naval Institute Press, 1997)

“Had the forenoon watch and after eating went out onto the fo'c'sle. Just arrived at the top of the ladder by the PO's heads when the wave hit me---waist high---and knocked me over. Looking astern---through the bulkhead door which was open, saw the stern of a ship sticking up out of ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...