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Use it or Lose it

Use it or lose it. We hear this phrase used over and over again when it comes to our physical and mental fitness.  Regrettably, we often fail to follow this simple axiom and pay dearly for it when we find ourselves trying to enjoy our “golden years”.  Let’s take a look at the consequences of our failure to use it.

Once we reach our 80’s we are generally discouraged from taking the stairs because of the risk for falling.  And, once an older person falls, we may develop an unhealthy fear of falling.  Diane Lange, a health and lifestyle writer and reporter for seniorplanet.org asserts that  “When you are afraid of falling, you tend to limit your physical activity. For a while that strategy works, but eventually, restricting activity leads to a loss of muscle strength, endurance and mobility — three things that make you vulnerable to falling.” This becomes a slippery slope (no pun intended) as the fear of falling becomes a psychological barrier to maintaining one’s independence.  But, there is hope!  This vicious cycle can be arrested.  The image below is from https://minds101.com/cbt-basics/the-vicious-cycle/

How to Escape Transitioning to Frailty

In an article from Reuters, Saija Karinkanta, a scientist at the UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research in Tampere, Finland maintains  “If you want to improve your walking ability, most of the exercises need to be done while walking – standing on one foot, reaching, shifting weight from one foot to the other, squatting, tandem walking, stair walking, walking on different surfaces and stepping,”   There is an excellent video demonstration of these exercises online.

There are also some very simple strengthening exercises done while using a walker.  It’s important to note that safety is paramount in exercising with a walker – for example, don’t forget to put the brakes on!  It’s best to do these exercises while supervised until becoming accustomed to the safety suggestions.  Take a look at this video and website for great instructions.

Helpful Links to Add Balance to Your Exercise Regime

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-elderly-step-training/step-training-may-reduce-fall-risk-for-the-elderly-idUSKCN0V6275

 

https://www.lifeline.ca/en/blog-article/14-exercises-for-seniors-to-improve-strength-and-balance/

 

http://www.seniorexercisesonline.com/steps.html ( great video demonstration)

 

https://seniorplanet.org/5-ways-to-ease-your-fear-of-falling/

 

For more blog posts by Virginia Tortorici, click here.

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