3 Easy Exercises for Grandparents
When I think about grandmothers and grandfathers, I think about my grandmother and grandfathers and my kids’ grandmothers and grandfathers. For sure there are incredibly capable older men and women, but even those incredibly capable have still suffered to some degree or another a loss of physical ease across their lifetime.
Fatstwitchgrandma is at the leading edge of research as it relates to the impact exercise can have on recognizable diseases. But what about recognizable ailments? Chronic pain, loss of coordination, loss of get-up-and-go. These 3, to name a few, are probably something most people over the age of 45 can relate to. Even at 36 I can recognize the early signs of these impending disconnections.
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Walking Fast Uphill
Walking fast uphill allows you to play around with a number of different variables as they relate to your gait pattern while maximizing physical safety. The increased physical demand of the incline creates a type of natural resistance training which will lead to strength gains should you repeat the activity over the course of time. The uncontrived nature of the uphill challenges your body in a way that relates to authentic movement patterns and thus you can measure against efficiency and begin to sort out faulty movement patterns while you walk. The perceived exertion can be very high because of the limiting factor of the incline, unlike going downhill at a very high perceived exertion level you can stop at any time. The worst-case scenario is a fall; a fall going uphill is far less dangerous than one going downhill or even on a flat. By mitigating some of the risks you can spend a greater deal of your mental effort on analyzing the quality of your actions and how they impact the activity.
Playing Volleyball With a Balloon and Your Grandchildren
Playing a game of keeping the balloon in the air with your grandchildren allows you to play with range of motion without the speed that the same activity with a real volleyball would demand. Diving for a drifting away balloon across the couch will both thrill your grandkids and stretch you into reaches and turns and twists that you’d otherwise never experience. Using play as an excuse to happily express yourself can be a nice change of pace from the normal mental chitter chatter that is probably less carefree than the silly mindlessness of trying to balance a balloon on your head. At the other end of the game, there is also growth potential. Your grandchild who is still learning how to throw and catch can trade some of his spastic still developing patterns for your more refined fine motor skills.
Whistling While You Walk Downhill
Holding your breath can build tension in your body, mind, and spirit in a way that negatively impacts your performance in almost every activity that I can think of. Walking downhill is one of those things, kind of like diving, that isn’t hard it just has to be done right. The pounding in your knees is the belly flop of the downhill hike-you simply can’t continue to do it. Whistling ensures that you are breathing and insures against the breath holding that will stifle the fluidity you need as you flow downhill. The lightness and easiness that whistling brings about in your being will keep you light on your feet and keep you from overloading your joints. Your goal is to nimbly navigate the descent while you seek out the effortlessness that can be yours on the way down.
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All 3 of these suggestions can happen whenever and they don’t have to constitute your entire physical regimen. I put them out there as easy and effective techniques for testing your body. With that said I’m entirely serious about how effective these 3 are and hope that you’ll give them a try.
Be active as often as you can! Lifelong exercise is associated with everything from reductions in frailty, to the regulation of skeletal mass and function, to successful aging (Elliott, et al. 2017). As we age, our bodies change. Physically active people and elite athletes often age more successfully than others, with successful aging being defined as “the optimization of life expectancy while minimizing physical and mental deterioration and disability” (Elliott, et al. 2017). Staying active keeps your body young and at optimal health.
Making resistance training part of your daily routine imbued lifelong benefits. Even if you haven’t been keeping up with hitting the gym it is never too late to start or to pick it up again; starting later in life still has benefits to aging outcomes. Resistance training has to be more than a reactive behavior to injury or falls and should be started as soon as possible (even to help prevent age-related injuries and falls). While longer qualitative data following patients’ muscle wasting and relative strength maintenance is needed in the scale of decades, the benefits of resistance training even in the short term and using self-reported methods cannot be ignored. Start hitting the gym if you can, pump some iron, stress your muscles! It will help in the long run.
Exercise can also help reduce cravings, especially high-intensity exercise. New research published in the International Journal of Obesity found that participants who worked out at a higher intensity took in fewer calories for over 24 hours than the other participants who performed a moderate intensity workout.
Only a few minutes of exercise per day can have positive effects on your mental health. You do not need to spend hours in the gym to reap the benefits of exercise and mental health. Every little bit of activity is better than nothing.