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How To Maintain Balance And Mobility

Maintaining balance and mobility is essential in leading a long and healthy life.  Unfortunately, as we age, our bodies slowly decline and we don’t have the strength we once had in our youth.  Rest assured there are things we can do to keep our strength, flexibility, and coordination for as long as possible if we work at it on a regular basis.  There are two areas we need to focus on developing in order to achieve this, muscular strength and motor skills.  

Muscular Strength – We’ve all heard the saying “use it or lose it,” which is exactly the case here.  The parts of the leg essential to mobility are Quadriceps (Thigh Muscles) and Gluteal Muscles (Butt).  One of the best exercises to perform to strengthen this area is squats, as the movement up and down specifically targets those muscles (and others).  To perform squats safely, stand in your kitchen with your hand on the counter for support.  Keep your back straight, by bending at the knee, and slowly lower yourself down as low as you can go comfortably. (Note: Do not go lower than a 90 degree angel/parallel to the floor as doing so may cause injury).  Once there, slowly and controlled, return to a standing position.  

Initially, try doing this 4 to 5 times.  As this becomes easier, increase to 6-8 and then 8-10.  Once confident in doing 10, proceed towards doing sets.  Doing this several times per week will not only increase your strength, but can actually help maintain and strengthen cardiovascular health as well.  

Motor Skills – As mentioned in the video, balance is a motor skill.  Motor Skills can be improved upon with practice and patience.  A simple way to do this is by standing on one leg.  In the kitchen again, place your hands on the counter for support.  Stand on one leg and then raise your hands off the counter an inch or two.  Hold that position for as long as possible, until you are about to lose your balance.  Quickly place your hands back on the counter and lower your leg.  Switch to the other leg and repeat.  Do this several times in a session and do several sessions per week. People ages 69 and beyond should be able to maintain this for 12.5 seconds.  If you cannot do this yet, don’t worry, in time you’ll be able to reach this level of balance and improve with practice. 

*As always, be sure to consult your physician before doing this or any exercise program.  

If you do these two movements regularly, over time you will see improvement and therefore maintain your balance and mobility.  If your physician feels additional support is needed to complete this program, they can prescribe therapy, and then we can come out to help you directly.  Having the proper strength and coordination is essential to living a long, safe, and healthy life.  

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