Physical Fitness, Agility and Balance
~ David S. Pratt
Physical activity is a powerful preventive medicine measure. Regular activity is associated with reductions in heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, weight gain, gall stones, falls, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, depression and sleep apnea.
Prescreening before starting to exercise?
Nicely laid out questionnaire to assure new exercisers they can begin without a doctor’s OK.
To get a better understanding of your strength and agility here are two tests you can try. #1 Chair test for leg strength:
#2 Eight Foot Up and Go Test – agility and balance testing
Physical activity for adults and seniors: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/olderadults.html
This comprehensive website provides background information and graded exercises for all adults and seniors. It is easy to navigate and includes videos of exercise that would be helpful for major muscle groups. The site underscores the fundamental value of aerobic exercise – 150 minutes per week for all of us.
Some recommended exercise schedules for older adults:
"Maintaining and Improving Muscle Mass, Agility and Balance"
Dear Savvy Senior,
I’ve always been a walker, but when I fell last month my doctor suggested I start doing some balance . Is this really something I need to practice? What can you tell me?
Most people don’t think much about practicing their balance, but you should, the same way that you walk to strengthen your heart, lungs and overall health, or you stretch to keep your body limber.
As we age, our balance declines—if it isn’t practiced—and can cause falls. Every year more than one in three people age 65 years or older fall, and the risk increases with age. A simple fall can cause a serious fracture of the hip, pelvis, spine, arm, hand or ankle, which can lead to hospital stays, disability, loss of independence and even death.
Balance is the ability to distribute yourin a way that enables you to hold a steady position or move at will without falling. It’s determined by a complex combination of strength, visual inputs, the inner ear and the work of specialized receptors in the nerves of your joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons that orient you in relation to other objects.
Poor balance can also lead to a vicious cycle of inactivity. You feel a little unsteady, so you curtail certain activities. If you’re inactive, you’re not challenging your balance systems or using . As a result, both balance and strength suffer. Simple acts like strolling through a grocery store or getting up from a chair become trickier. That shakes your confidence, so you become even less active.
If you have a balance problem that is not tied to illness, medication or some other specific cause, simple exercises can help preserve and improve your balance. Some basic exercises you can do anytime include:
One-legged stands: Stand on one foot for 30 seconds, or longer, then switch to the other foot. You can do this while brushing your teeth or waiting around somewhere. In the beginning, you might want to have a wall or chair to hold on to.
Heel rises: While standing, rise up on your toes as far as you can. Then drop back to the starting position and repeat the process 10 to 20 times. You can make this more difficult by holding light hand weights.
Heel-toe walk: Take 20 steps while looking straight ahead. Think of a field sobriety test.
Sit-to-stand: Without using your hands, get up from a straight-backed chair and sit back down 10 to 20 times. This improves balance and leg strength.
By Jim Miller Savvy Senior