mature adult fitness

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The Joy of Movement


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Forget the term exercise. Forget doing a certain number of reps. Forget cardio classes or lifting weights. Forget counting calories or walking on a treadmill. Forget exercise classes, Pilates, glute bridges, personal trainers or strength training. Forget dumbbells, resistance bands or balance training. Forget toning, sculpting or planks.

I want you to instead think about how you live your life now. At this moment in time when you are going about your day are you thinking about your body? Do you have to focus to do some physical things because they are becoming difficult? Are you beginning to plan your vacations or even everyday life actives around what you cannot do or find painful?

The things in life that bring you joy involve moving your body in some way. Even if you are not moving at the time, you have to get to point A to point B to do what you want to do.  Yes, we can enjoy life in our homes or apartments…but I bet you find some joy traveling somewhere – regardless the distance.

I will even go deeper – before you step outside you will do this and more: you will get out of bed, clothe yourself, bathe yourself, pick up after yourself, open doors, pick things up, possibly drive, get in and out of the car…the list goes on. You have to move to prepare to do the things that bring you joy.

This is where moving better can improve your daily life. There is a vast sea of many ways to improve the way you move every day. The list is as thick as a phone book. Think about how athletes prepare for their events. When you watch or hear about Olympic athletes you hear and learn about their physical struggles and mental struggles that got them to the Olympics. Even if you are not much of a sports fan you probably have an idea of what cross training means.

Why should you approach how you move any differently?

You may say that you are not an athlete, and have no desire to compete in the Olympics. Sure, you may not have any interest. However, we all have an event that we should be training for. Life is a physical event. Life entails movement. Our ancestor’s way before cell phones, cars, buildings and the civilization we know now had to move literally to live. These hunter-gatherers had to run, jump, squat, sprint and more to stay alive. These days we can pick up the phone to get many things…but putting on your clothes, feeding yourself and going about your day still entails movement. Our bodies are meant to move, get stronger, and stay active. We have to have the conditioning to walk upstairs, to do multiple squats, to lift and carry things too.

Approach life as your event. Age is not an indicator or measurement of when one should stop moving. Approach your event with the desire to move better. Even if you have chronic pain, disease or disability you can still strive to move better within your restriction so your everyday life is more enjoyable and reduce the chance of injury or falls.

If you are reading this and don’t have to think about your body during your day…good. What are you doing to make sure that this continues? What are you doing to sustain this? Are you doing more than just standing and lifting weights or walking on the treadmill? Are you thinking that any form of movement that you “have to do” won’t be fun or enjoyable? Step away from that thought and change your mindset – you can practice moving better in a way that will challenge you but won’t be a process that you dread.

Wherever you find yourself in this range of movement – I challenge you to train for the life that you want to live. Seek out those that want to help you on your journey. As a Functional Aging Specialist, I am qualified to help those in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s 80’s and up train for the life that they want to live.

Hold on to that joy and don’t give up on it.

Don’t change your life around your inability to continue doing things you enjoy doing. Move better every day so you can continue finding your joy and creating more moments to reminisce about.

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Squashing The Myths About Exercise for Older Adults-Part 3


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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:

#3 Okay…exercise, but just take it easy…
To counter this myth, Fred Devito summed it up with his quote “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”
Progress in fitness will only occur over time when you are challenged. Sure, it is important to start off light when you begin a new fitness program, but soon your body will become used to the exercise and a plateau will happen. Progressions should be incorporated that continue to challenge you to move forward. My clients trust that I will push them just enough so they continue to see the results of their hard work, but not to a point of injury or exhaustion. The key to maintaining the right balance of challenge versus safe progression does not require a steep incline, instead the magic word is variability.
For example, if you enjoy walking on the treadmill, instead of going at the same pace for an hour – do intervals. Try 5 minutes at a comfortable pace then 2 minutes at a challenging pace. Keep coming back to the comfortable pace to recover, then ramp up again to stay challenged. Another simple variation to stay challenged is to vary your foot pattern if you enjoy working with dumbbells. Instead of standing neutral (i.e. feet hip-width distance apart) try a staggered stance as thought you’re midway through a walking step with one foot ahead of the other. Not only are you doing your curls but also you are testing your balance and core strength.

We move throughout life engaging multiple body parts simultaneously – so why isolate just one when we are exercising? Train for life!
Don’t let these myths hold you back from living with the quality of life you want! There’s no such thing as too old to exercise. Especially as we age, exercise may become but more about what you can DO rather than just how you look. A healthy fitness program means being able to play with the kids/grandkids, enjoy a good golf game, take that trip of a lifetime, or maybe just get around easily.
It is never too late to train to move better in your everyday life!

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Exercise Without Assumptions – Train For Balance


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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.

Balance

When you walk, run, climb stairs, get in and out of a car you use balance. It doesn’t take actually standing on one leg during your day for your balance to be tested. Merely shifting your weight can be difficult if your balance has eroded. If you don’t take the time to test your balance regardless of your age – your ability to use your balance over time will decrease.

The good news is that you can re-train to improve your balance.

Consider changing your stance when you are doing some upper body movement that you enjoy doing. For example – curls or presses with two dumbbells are often done in a neutral stance. Your feet are about shoulder width apart and you are doing all the work in your upper body.

Consider changing where your feet are at next time you do curls or presses. A staggered stance – with one foot back will test your balance. Or an individual could do the exercise with a narrow footprint – feet close together. In both instances, your balance will be tested.  Often I have clients do is a rear lunge and then a press. Thus, I ask them to perform a rear lunge and stick it and stabilize before pressing the weights. Very quickly they will see how challenging it can be especially since they have to do it in steps and not just throwing the weight up. An option is to instead step back instead of a full lunge and driving the back knee down.

Especially as we age having good balance will keep you out of the hospital and greatly reducing the risk of falls. It is one thing to be able to do a 350 lb double leg press on a machine. This feat does not translate if the person has difficulty walking upstairs or stepping up onto a curb because their balance is not good.

What is good balance? Generally, good balance is being able to shift your weight, walk and do everyday life activities without an unsteady or unstable gait. Of course conditions like arthritis can affect how you shift your weight. If you do enjoy going for walks and feel as if you can’t anymore consider getting some walking poles.  You can still move better within your chronic conditions.

Test your balance in however you choose to exercise. It can be done by seeing how long you can hold a leg up. Just remember our bodies move in life as a unit. When you want to really test your balance you should be moving. This movement can include lunging or moving with weights. Just remember to mix things up and change your foot pattern.

Of course, consult your physician before starting an exercise program. Medications can affect balance so it is important to understand what the side effects can be from a qualified professional.

 

Train for life!

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Maintain or Improve Your Functional Capacity


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Take a moment and take an honest look at your health and ability to move well. This doesn’t just mean being able to lift, shoulder press or leg press an impressive amount of weight. Moving well includes being able to sit down and stand up without having to rock or use the arm rests. This also includes the balance, strength, and power to climb stairs. Even if you may have restrictions because of issues like chronic disease or arthritis you can still strive to improve your quality of life and move well within those restrictions.

Challenge yourself – if you are moving well right now what are you doing to make sure that as you age that does not change? If you are not moving well right now what are you doing to improve your physical ability?

Take a look at the below graphic. It is a simple and straightforward way of thinking about aging well. To explain what a functional capacity means – think about your daily life. Think about those daily activities that you need perform every day. These activities include what you need to do to maintain your health and well-being.  This capacity includes being able to go to the bathroom to pick up an object off the floor.

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I also challenge you to also include the things that you want and like to do. That capacity includes being able to get in and out of a sailing boat, competing in a triathlon or getting on the ground to play with the grandkids. What do you want and like to do? What do you have to improve so you can do those wants and likes easier or with less discomfort?

Maintaining your independence involves having that functional capacity. Maintaining your quality of life involves being able to move how your life demands. Introducing more or different ways of exercising will not only help you physically but also mentally and neurologically. Stay “in the green” and on the right path of a good functional capacity for your life!

 

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Exercise Without Assumptions: Train for Power


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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.  The benefits allow you to move muscle more quickly. Read more about the research behind power training for older adults here.

Power

Not many of us are powerlifters…but all of us do power moves in our daily lives. We don’t move as explosively or straining under enormous amounts of weight – but not every move we do is a fluid or slow movement.

Consider opening up a refrigerator whose magnet is not budging much. A slow and easy pull may not do the job. Instead of tightening your grip, contracting those muscles and giving a forceful pull allows you to open that door.

Other examples of when we use power – climbing stairs, rising from a seated position or lifting objects.

Yes, there is strength involved – but speed is involved when it comes to power. For instance, if you slowly rose from a seated position you may fall back if you didn’t go fast enough. With the ability to stand up firmly without using your hands (or rocking forward) takes power.

We all trip over things – it is the catching that is important. Being able to move quickly and shift your foot so you don’t fall takes not only the ability to move the foot but to firmly plant it. Being able to reach out your hand quick enough to react and grasp something or catch your fall is very important.

Consider adding short bouts of moving with weight and moving as fast as possible to your regime. Of course, consult your physician before starting an exercise program especially if you are getting yourself back on track to train for life!

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The Fitness Triangle


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Draw a strong & healthy foundation for your life to rest on. Three important things are in play when moving better in life to improve your health or sustain what you have. Your mind has to be in the right place. Find out what really interests you. Also be consistent in moving, exercising, whatever you decide to do. Lastly, always mix things up and keep your body guessing.

Mind

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Where is your mind at? What motivates you? Taking the time to move better in life comes in many shapes in sizes. You can’t miss the countless gyms and boutique studios popping up. Depending on who you are – it can be welcoming or overwhelming. Follow that path if it attracts you & shop around for not only something that is good for your pocketbook but also makes you want to come back again! Join a group fitness class or get outside and join a hiking group. Sign up for a race & start training for it. Grab a friend to join you on your fitness journey.

Don’t turn that brain off from moving better those many other hours of the day when you are not exercising. Using your feet as a mode of transportation, taking a break from sitting at your desk and standing up is also so good for you. Do what you can with what you have – start with that.

Where is your mind at when it comes to what you are putting in your body? Moving well is only one piece of the puzzle. Be mindful of what you use for fuel. This does not mean an all-or-nothing take on what you eat…it means that you have balance. Seek out qualified professionals to help you if you want to get advice about what foods are good for you and how to compliment all the work you put in moving better.

Consistency

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Be consistent just like Forrest Gump…you don’t have to run though.

After you find what you like to do – DON’T STOP. The movement, exercise, activity that gets you blood flowing & raises your heart rate that you keep on doing is the one that is good for you.  Make it more than one activity. There is no substitute, pills or supplements for consistency. Be consistent about moving.

Think of an analogy of driving a car up a gradual incline. If you take your foot off the gas pedal the car will eventually stop and start coasting back. If you keep your foot just enough on the gas pedal you still are moving forward. You don’t have to (or should not) slam that foot down and floor it for your workout regime. You need rest days for your body to heal & rest!

Yes, this also means being consistent about what you are putting in your body too! You are only as healthy as what you are eating. Make sure that there is more of the good stuff coming in than the bad stuff. Also, Water…lots of it.

Variation

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Mix it up and go for a hike! Find a challenging trail & put one foot in front of the other.

Variation to your regime is the magic potion. You are consistent at moving every week – but are you doing the same exact exercise at the same exact pace/weight/stance/etc? If so eventually your body would get bored.

Think of eating your favorite meal every single day for 365 days. No matter how much you loved it, it would get old. Think of reading a article and each sentence was the same. Think of reading an article and each sentence was the same. Think of reading an article and each sentence was the same. Think of reading an article and each sentence was the same…

Got it?

Mix it up! Change your intensity. Change the speed. Change your stance. Change from standing in place and moving weight to moving with weight. Your workout routine should not be the same every week.

Of course there are other important things to keep in mind when focusing on a lifelong journey of health. Just keep in mind these three things on your journey to continue to build on that foundation that you have built. Drop me a line if you want a coach in your corner to help you set that foundation!

-Damien

 

 

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Mature Adults & Seniors Deserve More Than Traditional Exercise


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We all live our lives differently. However, the one thing we have in common is the drive to live our lives with not much restriction. Not being able to do what we want to do, like to do or need to do can affect our lives is substantial ways. Outside forces are one thing, but when it comes to our bodies it can affect our independence. Traditional exercise even with its benefits is not a complete enough physical experience for mature adults and seniors. You deserve more.

If balance, mobility or a good range of motion are hindering everyday life and fun activities such as golf it can be life changing.   You want to be able to take that vacation abroad, sign up for that hike and above all do what you want to do – when you want to do it! At its core – these are the outcomes that you seek which fall in the like, need & want categories that Dr. Cody Sipe, Co-Founder of the Functional Aging Institute describes. Put simply – what do you like to do, what do need to do and what do you want to do?

As our population ages, it is no secret that age is nothing but a number these days. Working professionals and retirees such as my parents are active, busy and involved in their community. Sometimes I am lucky if I can get them on the phone! The reason that they are as active as they are is because of the results of being physically active in ways that allow them to make everyday life an independent experience. They are able to do their likes, needs and wants independently and easier.

Why traditional exercise is not enough for mature adults

While you may want to grind out a workout like your 20-year old self, you don’t care to be limping around at work the next day. Also moving in the only dimension that machines restrict you to is not reflective of your every-day life. Mature adults should not only be striving to be stronger but also to move in all directions better.  Their likes, needs and wants don’t fall into one category of strength or conditioning. You are not necessarily attracted to aesthetics as you are the outcomes of being active and the freedom of being able to do what you desire to do.

Priorities may change in regards to your health and your life. Buzzwords like strength or fat loss may be on your list but the words that may more appeal to the mature client are what you like to do, want to do, and need to do.   For instance, mature adults may want to accomplish exciting physical challenges like climbing mountains, challenging hikes or Triathlons. Or because of a fear of heart disease you want to lose weight to stay healthy – not specifically to fit better in your clothes.

Especially at this point in mature adults lives training for three-dimensional movement is pertinent. Re-setting, refining and correcting the grooves of movements of bending, lunging reaching or moving in different directions with weight is often left by the wayside for mature adults. We do not live in a one-dimensional world if we train as such as we age our range of movement and mobility suffers among other things. You deserve a training program that allows you to live your life with a positive view of aging.

Why traditional exercise will not fully improve or maintain independent lives of seniors

Often in traditional exercise, the assumption about the abilities of seniors sets the foundation. Plain and simple – you are fragile and should be handled with care. You should sit down doing most if not all of your exercises. Assumptions about any client before getting to know them is a disservice without a doubt. When it comes to seniors this restriction will not help you do what you want to do. This only holds you back and does not continue or improve a healthy way of life.

A training program should not reflect your age – it should reflect your abilities. It will meet you where you are and over time will change as you progress. The program should challenge you over time after you have set a good foundation of the step you are on. The program may regress – to help you even more. In time, you are ready to take another step forward. A program should incorporate things like power, strength, balance, and agility.

The risks of falling can be the elephant in the room with an aging population. The factors contributing to falls are 1. Balance and mobility problems 2. Medical conditions and medications 3. Vision and 4. Environmental hazards. According to the Fall Prevention Task Force in San Diego “In 2013, in San Diego over 17,000 older adults were treated and discharged from the Emergency Department and an additional 7,000 were hospitalized.”

Exercise can help to reduce this serious risk. However, automatically putting you in a category of doing exercises while sitting down, using machines that don’t allow you to move as you should is a disservice.

Why Functional Exercise is important to mature adults & seniors

In short – there should never be an assumption that just because we hit a certain age that our quality of life decreases and we are unable to do what we want to do.  The physical functions of mature adults and seniors are more than leg presses or a workout that does not ever challenge you because you are “old.” Instead, the activity should cover the areas that the Functional Aging Institute promotes for such clients: mobility, balance, neuromuscular function, cognitive, cardio respiratory & musculoskeletal function. These areas coupled with meeting the needs likes and wants of clients provide a better foundation for mature adults and seniors to build upon and enjoy their lives however they see fit!

If this sounds like the path that you want your fitness journey to take contact me for a free consult.

 

Damien

Functional Aging Specialist

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Nine Fitness Tips & Tricks for Mature Adults


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Mature Adults are an ever-growing population. As we get older we can still keep, regain and improve our fitness level which includes endurance, balance, and agility. You are never too old to start exercising.  You are never too old to continue to improve your life by moving. This is your opportunity to preserve if not increase your quality of life – empower yourself!

  1. Talk to Your Doctors. It should go without saying that before entering into an exercise program you should consult your doctor. Other reasons can also include the medications you are currently taking that can already affect your balance or impact your workout in other ways. Get those eyes checked too. Especially as our vision does change over time we may not realize if it is fact has.

Yoga & Tai chi are good ways to train & regain balance.png2. Think Outside the Box. You can enjoy an exercise regime at your local big gymnasium. On the other hand, other individuals don’t find such an atmosphere appealing. Either way, don’t force yourself to do whatever everyone else is doing or what works for your friend or loved one. Ideas for other ways to improve your health through moving include: hiking, taking dancing lessons, building a garden or training for a 5K or marathon. You don’t want to commit to a single thing? Then don’t!

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Mix things up on your own or join Class pass, Lymber or other options that give you the opportunity to sample out different studios and gyms. Regardless of what you do, keep your body guessing & sprinkle in some variation.

3. Stretch and Cool Down. It is important to continue (and even increase the length of time that we do it) stretching and a good cool down as we get older. Sure you can still run the basketball court at full tilt with the youngins. But you need to incorporate some dynamic movements into your workout to prime that body better to do what you expect it to do. Keeping those joints lubricated and fostering mobility is key to keeping you off of the injured list.

4. Test Your Balance. Like everything else that changes in us as we get older is our balance. This does NOT mean that we lose it. Remember that saying – Move It or Lose it? Yes, that applies here too. Read for yourself about the importance of balance training for older adults.

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5. Thumbs Up To Strength Training. Some time of resistance such as dumbbells, body weight, resistance bands, sandbags, kettlebells machines etc. The numerous benefits include improving your bone density, helping to maintain your weight. Think about training for life. You need strength to do many movements that seem effortless because we have the strength and endurance to do so. Don’t wait until you are having difficulty carrying those groceries or squat down to get something off the floor. Improve your quality of life & avoid falling into the pit of thinking that you can’t preserve or even improve the strength that you do have. As with anything involving fitness keep on challenging yourself but allow for the time to learn and improve.

Check Out.png6. Think About What You Are Eating. Okay, do more than think – study. There is no denying that what you put in your body will not only affect your mood but also how your body runs and your fitness level. Take accountability of this fact. However, this does not mean being completely strict to the point that eating is a chore full of math and calculations. It does not have to be. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a qualified nutritionist that can help you on your lifelong path of health.

7. Improve Your Posture. Improved posture can be a byproduct of a moving in ways that get you on the fitness train. Contribute to that by looking at what you are putting our your feet every day. Yes, heels are bad for you. Maybe by this point that is not going to change this quickly – then take the first step to being proactive. Start showing your feet, calves and rest of your body some love and do the stretches. Also, it is time to ditch those favorite pair of workout shoes. Treat yourself and exercise on some old soles that are not making those knees happy. If yoga or other mind/body forms of fitness are of interest to you reset your body often so it does not get stuck in that sitting down all day or other habits that lead to bad posture.

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8. Avoid Gimmicks or Jumping on the Latest Fad. As the saying goes, if it is too good to be true definitely applies to fitness and your health. Do your research as if you were buying a used car, investing in a house or some other big transaction. This should be no different if not more important – this is your body. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. For sure try out new things, just understand that there is no one-size fits all aspect to fitness and one’s progress.

Kid, consistent9. Whatever You Decide to do, Keep Doing It!  Securing a membership at the most killer studio with amazing equipment, flexible hours and great staff on hand to help you is awesome. But if the only thing you are doing is paying membership every month then that should be canceled asap. Setting up a walking date with a friend 3 days out of the week or committing to walking the dog longer every week is something to build on. Stick to something that you enjoy doing & set yourself up for success. Often gathering momentum is the hardest part, but be assured it takes effort to achieve your fitness goals!

 

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Mobility & Balance – Move it Or Lose It!


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Being able to move freely or easily is something can be taken for granted. Reaching back to put up your hair could be an automatic motion for you. You could not even fathom that tying a jacket around your waist to be an arduous task. Or let’s talk about your balance. It could be something that you only think of when you see gymnasts or when you try standing one leg. Walking up stairs seems more like an increase in elevation than a balancing act.  In addition, shifting a bag of groceries while walking does not seem like your balance is tested.

Mobility and stability are something that makes moving throughout life easier. When an individual is unable to do everyday tasks, this will affect their lives and well-being. Becoming empowered to regain one’s mobility and balance will put him or her on a path to being more self-sufficient, more confident and improve their way of life.

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What happens when mature and seniors lose their mobility and stability? If we don’t know someone like this we may pass them on the street or help them at the grocery store. This lack of good physical performance has a cumulative effect.  There was a study published in 2015 – Age-associated declines in muscle mass, strength, power, and physical performance: impact on fear of falling and quality of life.  A excerpt is quoted below.

Summary: This 3-year longitudinal study among older adults showed that declining muscle mass, strength, power, and physical performance are independent contributing factors to increased fear of falling, while declines of muscle mass and physical performance contribute to deterioration of quality of life. Our findings reinforce the importance of preserving muscle health with advancing age.”

The facts are glaring. In San Diego 1 in 3 seniors fall each year. In 2013 in San Diego 17,224 seniors were treated and discharged from Emergency Departments. San Diego Elderly Falls Report.

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Even though we may not consider climbing stairs as using balance…we do balance. When walking at some point one foot is off the ground and you are balancing while in motion. Photo Credit.

And you know what was two of the things that the fall was caused by? Yep, you got it – balance & mobility.

What can be done to decrease this chance of falling? Yes, exercise.

No matter what your age stay empowered to choose to move in the so many forms of exercise. If you don’t move it, eventually you will lose it. The good news is that it can be regained. Seek out your doctor to learn how other factors such as medication can affect your mobility and balance. Get cleared to exercise. Then seek out a qualified professional that can help you move better.

You have a great sense of balance and your mobility is good? Great, don’t stop! If you are feeling challenged seek out those that are qualified and excited to help you move better.

-Damien