Last month we looked at “The Senior Foot Shuffle”. We learned factors that cause impaired gait.
The first major cause was emotional trauma or a fear of falling. We also learned that underlying medical conditions can affect the way you walk. The most important finding was that shuffling your feet increases your chance of falling. This month we’re looking at ways to improve strength, balance and confidence so you can walk tall to avoid a fall.
A big cause of injury in the elderly is hip fractures. A lack of muscle strength and bone density means your mobility will be impaired. This means engaging in weight bearing exercise that builds muscle. Strong muscles protect your joints. Having strong joints means less injury. Strength training is a great way to build muscle and protect your joints from wear and tear.
When you increase your muscular strength, it’s important to improve your balance as well. This means once again challenging your balance in a controlled setting. I teach people how to go up the stairs and navigate uneven surroundings using specific props. This not only engages the body, but the mind as well. You’re teaching your brain to be prepared. This gives you the confidence to navigate the world around you.
Improved confidence occurs when I help someone improve their strength and balance. When your strength improves, you stand a little bit taller. When your balance is improved, you feel more secure. You feel better about your situation. That’s the most important thing to remember. You can do something to help yourself feel better.
Improving your gait requires taking an active approach. The good news is that you can help yourself! If you want to improve your strength, balance and confidence you’ve got to take the first step.
The Simple Joy of Movement
No one ever said you need to be athletic, coordinated or even very good at exercise in order to do it.
You don’t have to run ten miles on a treadmill or push a ton of weight to keep up. Let’s take the “work” out of it and make it more enjoyable. Remember when you were a kid and how free you felt riding your bike or playing tag at the park? You did it because it was fun. You did it because of the simple joy if it. Why should that have to change?
Most of the people I work with are average, hard working every day people who just want to feel good. They often don’t have a lot of experience being active and that’s okay. I’ve always believed that what you do inside the gym should help you outside of it. There’s this misconception that you already need to be in good shape in order to participate. Let me tell you, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I often tell people,
It is always intimidating to start being active when you’ve never done it before. You may ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? What the heck am I doing here?” You’re not alone in feeling that way. The best piece of advice I can offer you is this. Think back to when you were a kid. You played and had fun without even thinking about it. Find something you enjoy doing and do it. You may enjoy riding a bike, taking your kids to the park, or joining a gym. Do it because you want to and it makes you happy. That is the joy of movement.