Turns out that fear of falling starts to haunt us as we hit middle age. Either directly or out of concern for our aging parents, we start seeing more risk of hitting the ground and adjust our lives accordingly. Unfortunately “adjust” usually means shrink our world. We baby boomers (and our parents) stop doing things we once enjoyed as we fear injury. Have you discontinued an activity you once considered fun and now look at as risky? Then it’s time for some Fall Prevention.
Kymberly: In our family, we no longer snowboard after my husband’s fall led to shoulder surgery and my spill hurt my back.
Alexandra: I haven’t exactly fallen, but I did a major wipeout playing soccer back in 1998. After a number of knee surgeries, I no longer play soccer.
Fortunately we baby boomers can take action to prevent falls and bolster our balance so we age as actively and confidently as possible. Let’s arm (and leg) ourselves with a few insights. Plus take a look at Stability, Balance, and Age once you’re done reading this post.Worried about falling? Increase core strength and apply any of 3 key strategies Click To Tweet
Kymberly: When Alexandra and I attended and spoke at an IDEA Personal Training Institute conference, one of my favorite presentations (besides our own, of course!) was “Improving Balance and Mobility Skills.” This 6-hour session was offered by Karen Schlieter, MBA, MS whose expertise is in gerokinesiology, a new and specialized area of study that focuses on physical activity and aging. Some of her key points included the following:
One: Did you know that one-third of older adults fall each year? Women tend to break their forearms and wrists; men tend to hit their heads and suffer traumatic brain injury. Hold it right there! That is not the future we baby boomers envision, is it?!
We need to work on our balance by controlling our center of mass, also known as our core. The stronger and more respondent our core is, the more we are able to shift our center of gravity safely, quickly, and comfortably. Midlife and older is no time to ignore the core as part of fall prevention! So the first order of business is to strengthen our core.
Alexandra: Take advantage of the core exercises we present in our Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50. Below are two selections from that collection. Give them a whirl. Then consider getting all the videos and content.
Rotating Abs/ Core Move Video
Two: When something unexpected threatens to up-end us, we try to maintain balance using several strategies. In order of use, they are:
Ankle strategy: the first place to adjust in order to stay upright is at the ankle joint. Most people send their spine or shoulders into tilt and end up on the ground as a result. Start implementing a small amount of sway or bend at the ankle as a postural, or balance strategy. For example, if you are out walking your energetic dog, who then bangs into your legs at full run, bend at the ankle and knees, not the spine, to protect yourself from going down.
Before getting to the next two strategies, find out how good your balance is via this post:
Hip strategy: the bigger muscles around our pelvis help keep our center of gravity actually centered. If an ankle bend is not enough to keep us from a fall, we depend on the larger muscles that surround our hips. Again, keep the spine long and strength train the hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, hip extensors, and abs so they can support with extra oomph when balance surprises come along.
Step out strategy: The final strategy to kick into fall-prevention gear is to step forward, backward, or laterally. If you’ve ever done the panic shuffle when tripped, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Taking a quick salvation step or many depends on our senses, overall strength, and ability to scale our movement to our environment. While we can’t do much to train our eyesight or hearing, for instance, we can be proactive on the latter two functions.
Three: The last big insight we want to share from Karen’s session is that we lose power ahead of strength. For reducing falls, we have to have power. To get back up quickly after a fall we need power. Yes, resistance training is important (twice a week seems to be the sweet spot between reaping benefits and being time/ life/ schedule efficient). However, power training tends to go by the wayside once we say good-bye to our 40s.
A quick definition of the difference between power and strength is that power has a speed and often an explosive element to it. Strength training is generally slow and controlled applied force. Bottom line — add some kind of jump to your life. Jump rope, perform squat jumps, do switch lunges, work in a few box jump ups.
Alexandra: I’ll add a few final comments. Fear of falling can actually contribute to a fall. Even if you haven’t fallen in the past, if you have a fear of falling, you are at more risk. As well, if you find yourself shuffling, you’ll want to work on lengthening your stride and picking up your feet, as a shuffling gait can lead to instability and decreased mobility.
Action: Do check out our Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50 if you want to become more fall proof.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
At the recent IDEA Personal Trainer Institute, which Kymberly and I attended (and spoke at), we covered a variety of topics relevant to you and your fitness goals. At past fitness conventions we’ve listened to speakers who are so cutting-edge that they are called quacks…until their information turns out to be accurate and helpful.
So put on your “duck” shoes and let’s waddle through some of the information and posts we gathered from a number of presenters and colleagues. Read the linked posts so that you can be fully ahead of the rest of the gaggle (is that what they call a group of ducks?).
From “Boosting Your Immunity” with Teri Mosey, PhD
* For every thought you have, you release a chemical that goes to the rest of your body. What do you think happens to your body with repeated thought?
* Ninety percent of your thoughts today are the same as yesterday’s.
* We have a second brain, called the “enteric” brain.
* We have more brain cells in our stomachs than in our neo-cortex.
* Every 7-10 years we are physically a new person.
* You are the age you think your body is (I’m 39. I’m 39. I’m 39. I think I can. I think I can.)
* Most of us are too acidic and need more alkaline. Cancer cells grow in acidic space.
* Habitual coffee drinkers are more prone to osteoporosis and have become too acidic.
* You know what the Standard American Diet is – S.A.D.!
* 3-minute or poached eggs are anti-inflammatory; once the yoke is hard, it’s pro-inflammatory.
* Our emotions are not from the brain, but produced at the cellular level.
Kymberly wrote a post about falling – fears and injuries – from a full-day session she attended, which has some very helpful information.
* Thirty-three percent of older adults fall every year.
* Women break arm bones; men break their heads.
* People use the A.S.H. strategies to maintain balance (you have to click the link to know what ASH stands for)
* You need more core work.
Our FitFluential colleague Pamela Hernandez wrote an excellent post entitled Fit Tips from IDEA Personal Trainer Institute West about two philosophies she sees in the fitness industry – one is to stick to traditional, government-recommended standards, while the other emphasizes just getting people to move a little more. As a person who embraces technology, Hernandez welcomes its further blending with fitness. Oh, and she liked our session on social media. Twitter Shout Outs to her for that!
In the post Breaking the Barriers to Exercise, Jacquie Scarlett expounds on the need to make exercise more approachable to the average person. In one section she states, “The fitness industry is not designed to meet the needs of the sedentary population because the fitness industry’s idea of exercise is too high.”
Jacquie’s post really makes us wonder what it would take to get you to like exercise if you currently don’t.
* Is rolling a ball across the floor considered exercise?
* Do you think exercise is different than daily movement?
Hayley Hollander gave a workshop on programming for peri- and post-menopausal women.
* When our hormones are out of balance, we end up with excess cortisol.
* Excess cortisol causes us to eat more (among other not fun things).
* We need to do exercise that doesn’t exacerbate the amount of cortisol in our system.
* Meaning…High Intensity Interval Training
* High Intensity does not mean High Impact, so jumping until your uterus falls out is not necessary!
On an unrelated note, while you’re not jumping (unless it’s for joy), exercise your right to help me with a water awareness campaign I’m participating in please. BLANCO America is supporting a “Water for People” campaign via Pinterest. I believe water inequality is one of the most reprehensible and avoidable human conditions in the world today. Everyone deserves access to potable, pure water. Feel free to Like my pins while you’re there. That’s the spirit!
Oh, if you view this video before May 30, BLANCO will contribute a dollar for every view to “Water for People.”
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0ogoIOCeos&feature=player_embedded[/youtube] Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on google++Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.
Have a Clicky, Fit day!