Older & Wiser with Sue Grant

Posts in the Functional Fitness category

Don’t Fall for It – “Sit to Stands” are Grand!

I met with a new home client yesterday who told me that he falls all the time but assumed that this was a normal consequence of his clumsiness.  Goodness NO!  As you probably know, one of the most frequent causes of death for older adults is “complications from a fall.”  At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I told my new client that fall prevention is truly a matter of life and death.

There are many ways to minimize the chances of a dangerous fall, but I’m just going to write about one thing you can do in this article today.  Keep an eye out for my upcoming blogs to learn about additional things you can do to reduce your risk of falling.

Regular exercise:

This is (in my opinion as a Master Certified FallProof Instructor) THE most important thing you can do to reduce your risk for falls.  Exercise helps you to maintain lower body strength, which is crucial.  Let’s face it – everyone stumbles and trips a little during the day, but if your legs are strong enough, they can help you catch yourself.  If your legs are weak, then you will be much more likely to fall.

One of the easiest and most practical ways to improve your lower body strength is to do “Sit to Stands.”  You simply sit down and stand up from a chair.  Try to do a few Sit to Stands before every meal, and gradually increase the number of repetitions.

When you sit down, try to descend as s-l-o-w-l-y as possible – this will really help to strengthen your fall prevention muscles.

If you need to use your hands on the chair to stand up, then do so, but work towards using your hands as little as possible. The most advanced hand position is to cross your arms across your chest so that you are only using your lower body muscles to propel yourself. 

To measure your progress, see how many Sit to Stands you can do in 30 seconds.  Take note of which chair you use, and record the number of times you stood up.

It will be rewarding to see how much you’ve improved when you time yourself again in a month or so.  Just be sure to use the same chair so you’re comparing apples to apples.  As I’m sure you know, it’s a lot easier to stand up from a tall rigid chair seat than a low squishy couch.

These super-fast Sit to Stands are also a great way to add power to your workout, which is especially important as we get older.  Adding speed and power help to keep your fast twitch muscles tuned up, which help you to react quickly (which is essential when you stumble.)

Boring? You bet!  But anything’s better than falling and ending up in the emergency room!  Stay tuned for more fall prevention tips in my next blog.

Adopt a "NEAT" Lifestyle for Better Health!

If you are one of the millions of people that don’t enjoy traditional exercise, take heart!  You’ll be happy to hear about the NEAT term, which stands for
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. (Big word!)  Thermogenesis is a metabolic process during which your body burns calories to produce heat.

NEAT is the energy you burn when you are not sleeping, eating, resting or deliberately exercising.  It’s a great alternative for those who either don’t have the time, or simply loathe exercising. 

Now that we have such accurate wearable fitness devices, researchers have been able to measure energy expenditure, rather than just count steps, and they have discovered that dozens of non-exercise activities can be slipped into our daily routine to help keep us healthy and fit.

Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James Levine coined the term when he was the director of the Obesity Solutions Initiative.  “Anybody can have a NEAT lifestyle,” he said.  “Our research showed that you can take two adults of the same weight and one can burn an extra 350 kilocalories (per day) simply by getting rid of labor saving devices and moving more throughout the day.”

If you are retired, home maintenance can be an excellent form of NEAT.  For example, making your bed uses as much energy as walking!  Scrub the counters, sweep the floor, walk the dog, carry the groceries, gardening, going up and down stairs – it all adds up. 

If you do need to sit a lot, emulate that wiggly kid in 3rd grade that drove your teacher crazy – move your legs in various directions, stand up and sit down, tap your toes and lift your heels.  The more you move, the better.

How NEAT!

 

Sue Grant holds numerous certifications within the health and wellness industry.

  • Certified as a personal trainer by the ACE
  • Certified as a Master Instructor for the FallProof Program
  • Certified by the Arthritis Foundation
  • Certified in Older Adult Fitness by the American Institute of Fitness Educators

Sue has also studied personal training and group fitness through U.C. San Diego’s Fitness Professional Certificate program. Click here to find her collection of DVDs.

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