My ophthalmologist and I don't see eye-to-eye on this
I have cataracts in both eyes, and as they have grown worse, I notice a touch of imbalance has come into my life.
I asked my GP if there was any association between the two. He said no. I asked my ophthalmologist also. He said no.
I say yes.
Not to mention the earthing benefits of bare feet
We take our feet for granted until they're injured. I persisted in running too many extra kilometres in my favourite running shoes until my feet told me to grade-up to new shoes.
As well as bringing out my new shoes, I decided to walk barefooted every day as a way of reconditioning my feet. That turned out to be a fortuitous decision, as I have now found out. You might like to give it a try.
When I decided to walk barefooted, I had no specific theory in mind. I just figured that having the bones, tendons and muscles of my feet moving across a natural surface - road, trail, and the beach in my case - would activate neuromuscular pathways that shoes don't.
Your tendons help your brain understand how to balance
We rarely hear of the need to keep our tendons healthy. But we know that our balance gets worse as we age. The things we need to do to keep our tendons healthy also help us better sense the position and movement of our joints.
As we age, our ability to sense the position and movement of our joints degrades, even in very active older people. This loss is more severe in inactive people and leads to a less stable gait and more falls.
This is why it helps to think of regular daily exercise as a means of living longer better by avoiding falls - and also looking better longer with an upright posture. Your aim is not to build muscles and exhaust yourself; it is to improve your balance. In doing that, you'll need to build more muscle, but that outcome is a side-effect.
The best program to combat loss of balance is a combination of aerobic, balance and strength exercises. This combination keeps our tendons healthy, as well as our ligaments and muscles.
At home - three exercises, three sets, three times a week
As we age a loss of strength can lead to a loss of confidence in taking on resistance training. We imagine a power-lifter and the pain of training, and we revert to an all-aerobic exercise pattern. That helps our heart but not our posture and our increasing frailty.
Here's good news. Slow low-intensity resistance training will rebuild your muscle mass and help you stand taller and less likely to fall.
You can do it at home, and there is plenty of evidence of the "effect of very low-intensity resistance training with slow movement on muscle size and strength in healthy older adults".
By taking up a program, in your home, of regular slow low-load exercises, you will rebuild your muscle mass and enjoy an active life for longer.
This program will significantly slow, if not reverse, the 1% per year loss of muscle mass that is typical for adults aged 60 years and older. Just like slow cooking develops the flavour, slow training will develop your muscles (and your muscular coordination, tendons, and joints).
Do These To Walk Stronger And Live Longer
As we age, falling is one of the major causes of reduced lifespan, because of the terrible consequences of broken bones and broken spirits.
You may have had the distressing experience of witnessing a healthy older relative who fell, became inactive, and quickly deteriorated. That is why exercising - for all of strength, endurance and balance - is a key to living longer better.
The question is this: if you wish to focus specifically on more competent walking, which exercises and muscle groups should you give most attention?
I have an answer, based upon several related research studies.
Proven to be better than yoga for a sore lower back
My hamstrings have been tightening since we've had lockdown and gyms closed. I've been running more, a lot more. Running pits the quads and hamstrings in battle, and the quads win, which tightens the hamstrings by stretching them.
Typically, for runners, tight hamstrings reflect in a sore lower back. The combination of two recent research studies will help.
There's a fitness benefit, also why you might best skip it
Running with a mask taught me four things that you need to know before you try, two reasons why you might be best not to try, and one fitness benefit.
I've been trail running 5km almost every day for over 6 months, so I have a good baseline. Yesterday I ran with a mask. It's not fun. If you have to run with a mask here's what to know.
How to fix waking up with a headache and dizziness
Physiotherapists are reporting more people seeking treatment for symptoms related to forward-head posture. These symptoms include headaches and dizziness. Up to now, research into neck mobility and dizziness has been inconclusive. Just published research changes this.
What to do when you have lost the motivation
We all have distractions. Some, like the pandemic, are a massive one for all us and can be demotivating. Others can demand our attention, and some simply provide excuses to slip into old habits or to procrastinate.
A friend had recently started on an exercise program I designed for him. But after 3 weeks he surprised me by saying that he had lost the motivation to do his morning exercises. I wasn't immediately sure how to help, but we worked it out together to get him started again.
Have fun retraining your brain to fix your sore knees
Walking better will give you a better posture, a visceral pleasure in propelling your body forward and may help you live longer. And you won't even have to look like a serious walker.
Even better, it will rebalance your body and ease some of your pains, especially if you have been using treadmills too much.
Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter