Some things are not all that they are cracked up to be--especially regarding fitness and exercise advice. Balance is the opposite, and there's a reason why ...
One "challenge test" I often ask of people in my writing about fitness after 50 and living longer better is this:
- Can you put your socks on while standing up?
That's simple enough.
It is an elementary requirement - a basic human movement you might say.
Yet most people over 50 cannot do it. That concerns me, and it should concern you too.
The reason is that balance is intimately related to your core strength.
You need good stability at your core in order to have safe and effective movement at the hip, knee, and ankle.
In other words, if you do not have core strength and stability, your musculoskeletal system will start failing you. You won't be able to get up!
Here's the sad truth - inevitably, this will lead to you being moved to a facility where assistance is available to help you stand.
The shocking thing about this is not that it will happen, but that you can delay it by 5 or 10 years if you choose. You could live independently, in your own home, for 5 to 10 years longer. Possibly more.
This is what happens next ...
This is the progression of what happens when you ignore your early loss of balance:
When you reach stage 4 you become a medical emergency. Your local medical practitioner will almost certainly have to advise that you need to be put into care.
But for the sake of simple exercises ...
Your independent life is over.
But for the sake of some simple exercises that will strengthen your core and improve your balance, you have lost your independence.
The point of this article is not to recommend those exercises. I'll do so in another that you can do at home.
My focus here is to bring this test to your attention. And, to alert you to the consequences of failing it.
In case you doubt the flow of events that I described, I found this out from my local GP. My suburb has a higher than average proportion of retirees.
I asked him "what is the number one reason that local people are removed from their homes and put into aged care facilities?".
I was shocked when he said that it was because they could not get up from the toilet — shocked because simple exercises so readily delay it.
Take it very seriously if you fail my "socks on standing up test". You can Google "core exercises" if you cannot wait for my next post.
I implied in my opening paragraph that you could safely ignore most "Pop Sugar"-style fitness advice. Over-50s are not their target audience. They haven't yet thought about living in aged care!
The run of the usual linkbait headlines rarely hit on balance and core for over 50s. If you do see something, read it - balance is one of your most important fitness goals.
The other key ones are strength, interval training and cognitive fitness.
PS To those of you over 50 and exercising at gyms, a piece of advice. Avoid using the gym machines.
Every time you sit on a machine your brain disconnects from your balance. In fact, you go backwards, but that's another story. (I'm not talking about cable machines and rowing machines).
See my post: Will you choose to live 5 years longer or to look good in a t-shirt but can't do up your shoelaces?
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Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building body-shaping training for people our age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter