Older Adult Fitness San Diego

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The pitfalls of protected movement


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Recently I was working with a middle-aged gentleman who if you saw him move you would assume that everyday movements were not a challenge for him. In general, you would be correct. Like all of us, he had areas of tightness that could be addressed with everyday stretching or practicing more optimal posture. He mentioned that he had fallen in the past while hiking and was very apprehensive about walking downhill.

I was in the rear of a hike and saw how his body language and posture changed pretty drastically when the trail went downhill or downstairs. The steps become shorter. He lowered himself closer to the ground by bending his knees. His shoulders raised. He was not exactly shuffling but he was not picking his feet up as high off of the ground.

What if he encountered a root or something raised on the trail? Would he be able to raise his foot high enough so he did not trip? Also his base of support became narrower. The way he was moving of course in his mind was safer. However, from an outside view, he was increasing his chances of falling again.

I get it. After any of us fall of any age in the back of our minds, we don’t want it to happen again. We are afraid of it happening again. What would I suggest in this situation? First off it is obvious that we should applaud his want to not stop hiking. That is important. He was wearing just tennis shoes. Changing to better shoes so there is more traction and more confidence can be an easy fix. That in itself could be the game-changer. After the new shoes are on then it would be practicing better breathing (high shoulders means that it was not happening) would be a good step.

Let’s move on from that story. In general ways of protecting often involve pain. Knee injury, shoulder impingement or hip issues are all common areas. Sometimes the pain is gone but it is the fear of hurting it again.

Strength training can be one of the ingredients that your body needs. It does not and probably should not be a ridiculous amount of weight. Start where you are, then move from there. There are always options for a movement. If you continue to protect and not find ways to move better or with more confidence, it can be a recipe for a re-injury. It may take time to not hesitate. It will take patience with the process. It may take a while to really believe that your knee is getting better. However, starting even in small steps can add up over time.  On the other hand, I have spoken with people that claim that they can only pick up a 5lb dumbbell but they lift groceries and put items up in the plane with no issue. There it is a lack of connection between the gym and everyday life. Protecting in an environment (the gym etc.) where you have the opportunity to practice better movement that can help you move better in life can hold you back.

Let me leave you with one comparison of two pictures below that visually shows a movement in everyday life to an exercise in the gym.

Screen Shot 2019-08-30 at 4.39.32 PM

The woman on the left probably is calling this “picking up a plant” the woman on the right calls this a squat.

You say potato….I say… Exactly 🙂

Find ways to move through that protected movement so you can move with more confidence!

 

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Better Movement in San Diego


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Your generation deserves to be physically able to do what you want and like to do. You deserve to be challenged so you can live life on your terms as long as possible. It is not an anomaly for baby boomers in San Diego and other generations to be strong, resilient and active while enjoying their retirement or enjoying work. There are four areas that you should be investing your time in when practicing better movement: Strength, Balance, Mobility & Cardio.

Strength

In a podcast, I heard recently Dr. Jonathon Sullivan spoke to the necessity of strength training of older adults. Nothing rings true more than this:

“The loss of muscle mass in aging adults is nothing short of a health catastrophe…”

If you are not strong enough to get out of a chair, pick things up, move yourself and other things it can drastically affect your quality of life. Sometimes individuals tell me that they don’t want to get “too muscular.” You need that muscle. It is important to continue or start training now to be stronger. It is never too late to do some form of strength training.

It can be intimidating walking into a gym. You may not know how to use the equipment. It can be a scene of loud noises, egos and so much going on. Most gyms will provide an introductory tour and show you how to use the equipment. That may not be enough. Perhaps it is better for you to work with a qualified professional to show you not only how to use the equipment but also what you can do without machines to increase your strength.

Wherever or however you choose to work in maintaining or improving your strength – using age as your excuse as to what you cannot do will not get you stronger. Often strength training can help you reduce pain, improve movement and indeed confidence. Do you need proof?

The deadlift may have a special name..but you do a version of deadlift every time you pick things up off of the floor. It is a full body movement. You don’t need to be a powerlifter to do some form of this so you can continue using your legs and posterior muscles to move. Here is the story about this woman. Click here to read it.

Balance

I use the example of a program running in the background when it comes to balance. When everything is going well we don’t really think about balance. But when our balance begins to erode it can take actual concentration to ensure that you don’t fall over. Regardless if you think your balance is good or not – challenging it and practicing better balance is important to better movement in life.

Generally, when we think about balance training it is standing on one foot and balancing. Sure that is a good way to perform balance training. You need to start where you are and if that is very difficult then practice it, and be mindful of your posture at the same time. At the same time, consider that movement is part of everyday life. When you are moving you are using your balance. Often balance is part of a complex movement.

Want to see an example of such a complex movement?

I challenge you to fight that initial reaction you may have that you cannot do this. This and most if not all exercises can be broken down into steps…then once someone is ready they can begin to link them together. I don’t downplay that this movement is challenging…there are so many more things in play here than just balance: single leg strength, coordination, core stability, body awareness…. That is everyday life activity!

The statistics for falls is staggering. Click here to check out the stats on the National Council on Aging website. Balance training is one of the pieces of the puzzle to help reduce chances of falls!

Mobility

What the heck does mobility mean?

In the words of Pete McCall in his article in ACE Fitness online magazine he describes joint mobility as something that:

“…relies upon a constantly changing axis of rotation. The muscle, fascia and elastic connective tissue surrounding a joint function to create movement and provide the stability responsible for controlling joint position while it is in motion. Optimal mobility allows a joint to experience full, unrestricted motion while controlling the constantly moving axis of rotation.”

Let’s back up a bit and make sure you understand the knowledge that he is sharing. I will put it in plain words, your optimal movement is when you can move your joints in a path and way that is natural and optimal for your body. This includes things like being able to raise both hands above your head or hip movement that allows you to comfortably walk, run or move without having to compensate how you move elsewhere.

Often I have found it useful for individuals to do some movement in different directions to help improve mobility. It does not need to be groundbreaking, but it can help you reconnect with your body. This is something that everyone, including myself, needs to do more of. If you make time to exercise in its various forms…making time for mobility work is imperative.

Take a look at some of Ruth’s movements below.

 

Cardio

I put this here because you may be expecting or looking for it. Perhaps you do cardio. Walking, treadmill work or hiking. This can be a good way to get outside. This is a great way to relieve stress and get some vitamin D. There are many benefits to cardiovascular training, check out this great article here.

My advice is this. Don’t feel as if you need to become a runner. If you are walking, hiking or running mix things up. I have heard comments on the fact that someone is walking so many minutes a day and is not really seeing any results. Obviously, there are other factors in play..but what is your walk, hike or run like? Change up your intensity, add some incline, or start timing it to see how far you can get in a certain amount of time. Volume – aka the amount of time you are walking or distance is not the holy grail.

Above all, I encourage you do get your cardio in. However, start at the top of the list! Get stronger. There are is a substantial cardiovascular benefit to strength training. Check this article out.

Wrapping it up…

This is not an exhaustive list of what you should be doing to improve your quality of life. That would be too overwhelming! 🙂 Being physically active and incorporating strength training, working on your mobility, challenging your balance will lead you on a good path to continue to be able to live life on your terms. In San Diego and elsewhere, I challenge you to invest the time in various forms of movement!

Lastly – if this all sounds interesting to you… Click here to learn about and sign up for the: Baby Boomers Better Movement Workshop here in San Diego!!

Better Movement Flyer

 

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The Power of Patience When Improving the Quality of Your Life


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One word can be a driving forward force or a weight that can hold you back from reaching goals that involve improving the quality of your life.

Patience.

When it comes to patience and improving the quality of our life being patient with ourselves and the process is what the bricks that line the street to our goals are made of. This could be patience in listening to your body after an injury and to adjust, recover and learn from what happened. Or being patient and understanding that losing weight takes time, regaining your mobility takes time, getting stronger takes time, as does regaining your body awareness. None of these happen overnight. Understand that chiseling away at any of these takes time.

If you are working to regain something like strength or balance – understand that it did not erode overnight. That took time. The kind of strength training you were doing was not sufficient or consistent enough. Think about the amount of time it took for your balance to become so challenged that you started noticing it. It was more than a span of weeks or months. That took years. Initially, it may not have even been noticeable. Perhaps as it became apparent it was not addressed.

Think about how over the years bad posture can add up. For example, wearing shoes that are not good for your body (like heels!). Or ignoring a nagging tightness that adds up to some sidelining pain. It has a snowball effect.  I don’t point this out for you to beat yourself over the head about that amount of time.

I instead point this aspect of time to give you a perspective. I understand if you are frustrated and want that goal for your health to be reached tomorrow. Especially in this day and age of instant gratification, instant text messages and especially ads that infer that they can get you quick results you become accustomed to thinking like that. Often this is not the case. If it does happen it can be questionable if that movement improvement is truly sustainable.  Recognize instead the power in doing something about your health and well-being. That empowerment can be exciting and stimulating. This commitment takes work and I see and hear many testimonials from individuals that have come far because of their own work and the help of other people.

Obviously being patient and giving excuses are completely different. For example, being patient while improving your hip mobility does not mean doing mobility exercises every once in a while. Instead, this means being patient with not seeing immediate results when consistently doing the mobility exercises. This patience includes recognizing the small improvements as they add up to big ones. Setbacks are frustrating and they can shatter our patience. You are human and you feel things. After you allow yourself to feel what you feel – while pressing reset and putting the pieces back together, be patient with the rebuilding process. As you put the pieces back together, think about how that setback happened and how you contributed to it.

Finally, Practice patience with your process. You could feel as if you are doing all of the right things and you are not seeing the results that you seek. Nothing can be more frustrating than that feeling. If you feel stuck improving the quality of your life, reach out to allies, fitness professionals and other qualified health professionals who can guide you down the right path to your goals. When you find someone you trust that takes your goals and interests to heart, understand that they see the long-term benefits to seemingly sometimes small choices.

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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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