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Thoughtful Movement


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It is much more convenient when you don’t really have to think when you are moving. Things become second nature. In everyday life, it can be a plethora of things. We go on autopilot often and muscle memory kicks in.  But there was a time we had to think and focus on how we moved. You were thinking more when we were learning.

It is like when you first learned how to ride a bike or even drive a car. You were probably hypersensitive to your balance and your speed when you were learning how to ride a bike.  As for driving a car balance was not an issue…but all of the things you had to do (check your rear mirror, then your side mirror, check out your speed, turn your signal on, watch for that stoplight) was kind of a sensory overload. Soon all of that calmed down and you got it. It became second nature.

As for your movement now it is a bit different. Perhaps you don’t play as much as you used to do when you were younger. Maybe you are tired of being beat over the head about exercise with a capital E. It could be you feel disconnected from your body.  Whatever it is, you know you need to do something, and you are trying.

I still challenge you to be engaged. If you dance – get into it. Let the music take you but reconnect with your body and play with your movement. If you are going to the gym or doing more conventional ways of exercise don’t just go through the motions. Study. Learn. (…and trying to say you are old won’t fly with me!) I don’t mean be a perfectionist about form. I mean notice your breathing. Learn about the importance of creating tension in your body during a movement and notice how that feels. If you do work with a trainer still don’t turn your brain off. Notice how much weight you are moving with. Be a good student and learn. Take ownership of your sessions.

Exercise is good for your brain and there are definitely ways to move that make you think and be more aware. It can be more like riding a bike again. This way of engaging does not stop at strength or conditioning…stretching and moving in ways to increase your mobility should be a mindful activity too.

You may come up against a barrier. It could be a physical barrier of a range of motion or a mental barrier as to something you think you cannot do or a movement that once lead to injury. Listen to that and don’t pack that away. Being aware of that and allowing that feeling to sit in the present is all about thoughtful movement.

Your brain was firing on all cylinders when you learned something for the first time. Those first times are still now and in your future. You just have to be open to learn, seek out advice and try different things. Allow yourself to learn how to ride a bike again. It can be scary but also exciting and stimulating. Again, you are never too old to learn. You can create more neurological pathways at any age. Read more about it here.

Get on that metaphorical bike & learn. Make mistakes. Avoid comparing your progress to others. Fall and get back on. It is all part of the process of better movement. It feels new and different.

Walk towards more thoughtful movement 🙂

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Exercise Without Assumptions – Train For Agility


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We rarely enjoy it when individuals make assumptions about us based on our beliefs, how we look or our age. When it comes to moving better and exercise don’t let assumptions about your potential hinder you. Regardless of your age, you should be training for a physical experience – life.  I strongly believe that age should not restrict someone from moving better. You can read more about it here.

Agility

Agility is defined by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as:  “how accurately and rapidly a person can change direction; involves the stages of acceleration, stabilization, and deceleration.”

With that definition in mind, a scenario may also help hit it home as to how important agility is.

It is a sunny day in San Diego. You are walking down a sidewalk and a couple is walking the opposite way busy with an excited conversation. One of them was holding their toddler’s hand who has a stuffed animal in her hand. As you say good morning and they pass the toddler decides it a perfect time to toss the stuffed animal right in front of you.  You were walking at a comfortable pace, but stop and quickly step to the side so as not to step on the animal.  You then reach down, pick it up with one hand and quickly catch up with the parents that did not see the “offering” and hand it back to them.

Let’s break this down, in terms of agility.

  1. You had to come to an abrupt stop and simultaneously step to the side.

This is the deceleration that was mentioned in the definition. If you didn’t have the agility (and balance!) coming to an abrupt stop could end in a fall or a trip. Of course, you also had the option to step over the stuffed animal too. That would also be using agility as you would react and step over an object and clearing it so you did not trip.

There is also the simultaneous sidestep. I am sure you guessed by now this takes some coordination to be able to judge how far to move your foot over and stop at the same time once you moved. Again, balance plays an issue as stopping and moving to the side can test ones balance if it has eroded.

  1. You picked up something and simultaneously started moving in another direction.

Here you are not only moving but moving with weight in your hand. Sure, this stuffed animal may not weight much. However, it still takes stabilization to move. Why? You were in a lowered position and pivoted in another direction with the animal in your hand. You had to stabilize and move. If you did not have the agility and balance doing this simple movement could have resulted in a trip or a fall.

  1. You picked up your pace to catch the family.

Acceleration occurred at the point where you grasped the animal and moved in an opposite direction. This aspect of agility is important so you can move quickly and with confidence. It was not a slow walk, as you would not be able to overtake the family. The parents were busy talking to each other so trying to get their attention would not help. Of course, you can argue that you could have decided to keep the stuffed animal for yourself 🙂

Food for thought: How do you think the scenario would have gone if agility was a problem?

I hope that this example helped hit home the importance of agility in everyday life. We all could use some “practice” in agility. You see on TV of athletes doing agility training so they can move better on the field of play. In your life – where you move is your field of play. Click here to read my other post regarding the importance of training for balance too!

Train for agility so you can move with confidence and enjoy the quality of life that you deserve!

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How You Can Re-Define What Aging Means


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Think about your average commercials or the way in which individuals over 60 are depicted. Often in society “old people” are depicted as hunched over, frail and as if their best days are behind them.  This stereotype of a lack of mobility or range of motion, fragile nature, inability to do want to do in life does not have to be the quality of life for you. I urge you not to internalize this…or if you are a family member don’t allow that to affect how you view your loved ones and their potential.

In reality, that picture described above is and can be different. People are going on trips of a lifetime, running marathons, in the best shape of their life, continuing to move better and training to be stronger…all of the above and more. That can be you.

There is no mold, you can train for the life that you want to live.

How can you re-define what aging means to you?

  • Move better every day. Strive for progress in your movement, think of getting better at exercising as practice to do better over time.
  • Tap into what motivates you to move your body. Join a dance class, join an exercise class at the YMCA, join a hiking club..the possibilities are endless!
  • Be consistent about moving every week…but embrace variation.
  • Challenge your balance and agility. These are key to having a quality of life that you can enjoy and independence you deserve. Just being strong is not enough. Be a better walker, stair climber, better movement in your life.
  • If you have fallen, don’t let that define you. Find qualified professionals that can help you improve your balance and agility so you can decrease your chances of falling again.
  • If you have a disability you can still find ways to move better to improve your quality of life. Exercise is a flexible and adaptable way of moving and it comes in many, many forms.
  • Change your mindset that your best days are behind you. If you strive to move better every day you can continue to do what you want to do and like to do…or lead your life with more independence and confidence. You choose!
  • Take ownership of any chronic conditions that you have and discuss with your doctor how to reduce symptoms and how certain types of exercise can help.
  • Reach out to allies in your community that are experienced, qualified and excited to work with you and help you move towards your goals.
  • Never think that you are too old to learn something. Often exercise, especially when trying something new is a learning process. Be patient with the process. Also, that learning aspect along with exercise is great for your brain!

Choose the path that leads to a lifestyle and quality of life leads to you being able to do what you like and want to do!

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Squashing the Myths About Exercise for Older Adults – Part 2


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Despite our cultural depictions of aging, we all have the ability to age well with the strength, agility and balance to maintain our quality of life and the activities we enjoy. Traditional exercise programs, and even many fitness professionals, often disregard the ability of mature adults and seniors to maintain and gain qualities like strength and agility.

Regardless of age, we should all make the time to move, exercise, or play. Let’s squash one of the myths that hold mature adults and seniors back from moving better:

2. It is too late to exercise or You’re too old for that

This myth seems to be based on a limited and subjective definition of “exercise.” Exercise does not have to happen in a big box gym, nor do you necessarily have to be wearing fancy exercise clothes. (You don’t have to wear leg warmers, tights and a headband unless that’s what motivates you!)

Consider all the activities that can contribute to exercise and fitness. For example, building and tending to a garden incorporates squatting, lunging, digging, pulling, dragging, pushing, core strength, carrying objects, and more. If you don’t have the space (or interest) to be a neighborhood farmer, then going for hikes, joining a rec league, pilates, enjoying the social, mental and physical benefits of Tai Chi, or trying out some group exercise classes at a gym/pool are all great ideas.

If you have a favorite park or enjoy walking in your neighborhood? Start there! Finally, if you do want a gym, shop around and find one that you are comfortable at. Independent gyms vary greatly. Find one that you’ll enjoy and will continue going to rather than paying for a membership that you are not using.

Find the exercise that fits your preference and lifestyle. Do something that YOU enjoy doing!