Don’t Just Sit There! – May 2016
In total, Americans are sitting an average of 13 hours a day and sleeping an average of 8 hours resulting in a sedentary lifestyle of around 21 hours a day. Excessive sitting can lead to many health hazards including poor circulation in the legs, soft bones, increased risk of colon disease, heart disease and even a 50% increased risk of death, from any cause. But I want to talk about the effects sitting has that we can actually see now, versus what may happen. So what happens when we sit too long?
Tight hips. Flexible hips help keep you balanced. Hip flexor muscles become short and tight, limiting range of motion and stride length. Studies have found that decreased hip mobility is a main reason elderly people tend to fall.
Limp glutes. Sitting requires your glutes to do absolutely nothing, and they get used to it. Soft glutes hurt your stability, your ability to push off and your ability to maintain a powerful stride.
“Text neck.” A stiff neck from tilting your neck down to your phone, continues to gain traction as a health concern as we all adapt our lifestyles to technology. Also, bad posture at your desk can strain the cervical vertebrae and lead to permanent imbalances.
Inflexible spine. Spines that don’t move become inflexible and susceptible to damage.Collagen hardens around supporting tendons and ligaments. Combine that with weak back muscles and your posture will surely pay the price.
Disk damage. People who sit more are at greater risk for herniated lumbar disks.
Here are some suggestions to get you moving while at work and home.
- Alternate between sitting and standing at your workstation. If you can’t do that, stand up at least once per hour, even for just a minute.
- Never work through breaks or lunch; get up and move! If your office has more than one floor, use the stairwell to do steps on your break.
- Use standing desks if available.
- MOVE during commercials when you’re watching TV.
- Stretch your hip flexors throughout the day, like this:
- Try yoga poses — the cow pose and the cat —to improve extension and flexion in your back.
Strength training to get off the toilet – April, 2016
One of the reasons people end up in a nursing home is because they cannot get off the toilet without assistance. This is due to muscle weakness which is due to inactivity, not age. The good news is that it is pretty simple to improve strength, no matter your age or current fitness level. With more than 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 everyday, it is important to educate, encourage and empower the baby boomers to get active. Maintaining muscle strength and balance are essential for preventing falls and maintaining physical independence.
Walking is kind of the go-to exercise for many people. It is easy to do and you can do it anywhere. But the problem with walking is that you cannot do it year round in the Midwest and it does not help prevent muscle loss. Strength training is gaining more and more popularity with older adults as studies continue to show the benefits. Strength training exercises can be done anywhere, anytime, because these exercises can be done right in your kitchen. Would you believe me if I said you could perform just two exercises and get a full body workout? 2 great exercises for beginners are counter push ups and chair stands.
Pushups are a great upper body exercise because they work all of the muscles in just this one exercise.There are 4 levels of pushups; wall, countertop, modified and regular (best known as military style). Your current fitness level determines which you should do. Shown here are counter push ups, which I do with all of my older clients.
Chair stands are a great lower body exercise. They strengthen the muscles in the abdomen and thighs. If you are unable to get out of the chair without using the arms of the chair, that is fine. Just work towards getting out of the chair without any assistance. If chair stands are not challenging for you, do a set without allowing your butt to touch the chair (also called a squat).
When I am working one-on-one with my clients in their homes, we do a variety of exercises depending upon their specific needs. But if you are just starting out, these two exercises are a good place to start. It is recommended we get at least 30 minutes of activity per day AND perform strength training exercises at least twice per week for each muscle group. What this means is you should perform 2 sets of push ups and 2 sets of chair stands (a set is 10 repetitions) at least twice per week to help prevent muscle loss and/or improve muscle tone.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Strength training helps correct issues relating to cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and inactivity – all factors for heart disease.Strength training has also been proven to help manage and improve the quality of life for people with arthritis, Parkinson’s, Dementia and fibromyalgia, to name a few. One other benefit to strength training is the ability to do normal activities of daily living with ease such as carrying groceries, picking up your kids, cleaning the house…..and getting off the toilet.