Working out at home, or have a loved one who needs to? Whether you have your own favorite exercise routines, follow a TV program, or pop in a DVD to follow, here’s some tips to keep you safe, sound, and focused while you keep healthy and fit.
Clutter is distracting and can be a hazard. Put away as many items as you can, things that will either get in your way as you move or interrupt your concentration. (When I have a hard time getting started at tidying, I tease myself with, “Just put away 10 things.” That gets me started, and sometimes, finished!) Check for pet toys, shoes, dishes, and any newspapers that may be lying about, and get them picked up and put away.
Poor or dim lighting can create conditions for falling. As we get older, we need more light. Make sure you have the right amount of light to see where you’re going, and to see the things in the room.
Be sure to be on either a non-skid carpet or bare floor. Throw rugs can slip and cause a fall.
Your feet need to be comfortable, warm, and safe. Although I usually suggest you work barefoot if possible, as we get older this may be uncomfortable for some people as the padding on the soles of our feet becomes thinner. The next best thing would be “hospital socks” that allow freedom of movement for your foot but have non-skidding surfaces on the sole. The second-best footwear would be a light sneaker with a thin sole (thin, compared to athletic shoes.) If you feel you need to wear athletic shoes, go ahead, and don’t let that stop you from Agile Aging! If you wear therapeutic insoles (orthotics) please remember to wear them too.
Always have a sturdy chair handy to hold onto for balance for standing exercises. A folding chair is usually not heavy enough to provide the support some people need; a dining chair might be just right.
If your balance is insecure, do your program next to a wall on one side, or even standing in a corner of the room so that you have two walls nearby to touch or lean against if you need to. Along with your chair, you will have three sources of stability beside you, along with the foundation of your feet beneath you. (If you are doing our official Agile Aging agility activity program, it WILL challenge your balance. Be safer than sorry!)
Music and Remote Control
Everything goes better with music! Music sets tempo, rhythm, and mood. Set up your CD or iPod player and, if possible, have a remote control so that you can start and stop the music as you like. If you don’t have a CD player, turn on your radio or cable music channel to your favorite style of music, and let it move you!
Keep your props (ball, scarf, string, band, cane, and/or weights) in a small basket near or under your chair so that everything is within reach while you’re practicing.
Have a glass of water close by, and drink it throughout your program. Mature adults tend to get dehydrated easily, and that can contribute to dizziness and weakness.
Ah, pets. We love them, and they love us, and they love to get underfoot just when we’re practicing because it looks like so much fun! Did you know that pets are a big cause of falls in the home? According to the CDC, pets (and their bowls, bed, and toys) cause 87,000 people per year to go to the ER for fall-related injuries. (Even I’m not immune – not long ago I fell over my dog, Jack Brown, early in the morning when the light was dim.) If you have an active pup, let him enjoy some outside time, or move him to another room while you’re working. If your kitty is a lap cat, she too can spend a bit of time away from you while you practice.
Distractions and Interruptions
If there’s ANYTHING to prevent you from doing your program, it will, so reduce all possibilities if you can. Turn off the TV (unless you’re following a DVD, of course) and your phone, turn on your answering machine, and get going!
Motivation and Journaling
If you tend to procrastinate (who doesn’t?), try to be disciplined by keeping a journal and making a date with yourself. Keeping a diary helps us keep on track whether we’re motivated or not. Whether you use our Agile Aging Journal or a small notebook or wall calendar, schedule your practice like you would a doctor’s appointment or lunch with a good friend, and keep the date! Better yet, work out with a buddy.
Use It or Lose It – Pacing, Intensity, and De-Training
There’s a sad fact about our fitness. It only takes five days to “de-train” – that is, if we go five days without exercise, we begin to lose the fitness level we had. If we are ill, under the weather, busy, or forgetful, it doesn’t take long to lose our hard-earned gains. So, set your goals to a modest level, and try to do some movement several times EVERY day. You’ll soon find that you build up stamina, strength, and stability.
And now, a word from our sponsor, Agile Aging.
There are a number of recent studies that show that sitting will shorten our lives. As we age, we sit a lot. Try to find ways to get yourself up and moving at intervals. In the old days, we used to stand up to go change the channel, but we don’t even do that anymore. If you are sitting a lot in front of the TV or computer, get some movement in during commercials or set a timer to alert you every 20 minutes or so. Stand up, fold some laundry, move to a different chair (also good for your back and hips!), get a glass of water, go to the bathroom. Then, you deserve to sit awhile!