ARE YOU GROUNDED?

ARE YOU GROUNDED?

The human body operates best when it moves. With sufficient practice, a movement can become a learned skill that through regular use becomes second nature. The converse is also true. When we avoid or stop moving in certain directions or dimensions the body slowly loses the ability to do those movements or skills and this affects our functional ability, imposing on our independence.
How easy is it currently for you to get up and down from the floor? The answer to that question may depend on a few factors—your age, how many injuries you’ve had, your confidence and, of course, whether there’s something down there that’s really that important.
If it’s too difficult or painful you may avoid getting up and down from the floor altogether. This is an important skill to have, though, especially when we get older. In fact, it is so important that our ability to do so is actually a measure of fitness and longevity. The World Health Organisation describes the ability to be able to get down and up safely off the floor as “an important skill for older adults to learn which will help them in coping with a fall”.

Despite this, only about 50% of people are able to get up from the ground. This then results in a ‘long lie’ which is defined as “remaining on the floor or ground for more than one hour following a fall”. All of which is a marker of weakness, illness, isolation and is associated with high levels of mortality rates in the elderly following a fall.  Furthermore, half of older adults who remain on the floor for an hour or longer, die within 6 months following that fall. Unfortunately, the amount of time spent on the floor following a fall is then associated with the fear of falling, muscle damage, pneumonia, pressure sores, dehydration and hypothermia.
No one wants to fall.  And most people think it will not happen to them. However, research shows us that 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 years will fall over each year.  All people at risk of falling should have a strategy for getting up following a fall.  Preparing for this, will make it easier to minimise further injury and expedite getting up from the ground.
Getting up and down from the floor calls on almost every area of fitness and many parts of our bodies: balancecore strengthlower body strengthflexibility, and coordination.
If you have any issues in those areas, say you don’t have much flexibility in your hips or your balance is wobbly, it may be a difficult challenge. Feeling shaky may make it seem impossible but there is a safe way to get up and down from the floor, whatever your situation. Taking it step by step and practising on a regular basis can help you master this important skill.  The issue also reminds us of how important it is to engage in an exercise programme (especially one that is specifically targeted towards to needs of older adults). Not only will exercise significantly reduce your risk of falling but, through targeted exercise, moving down and up off the floor will become much easier.
Imagine being able to play games on the floor with your grandchildren or to know confidently that if you have a minor fall you would be able to get up independently.
For some: easier said than done… but practice makes perfect.

Not sure where to start?
Silver Fit has recently launched a new component to its exercise classes that includes teaching members how to get onto the floor (or as close to as possible) and back up again safety.  This is done through a range of exercises and stretches that each member does at their own pace and level of ability.
If you would like to benefit from a class voucher (for you to participate in a FREE class) please contact Silver Fit by completing the form at the link below:

Click here to learn more!

 

WHAT IS BALANCE?

WHAT IS BALANCE?

The dictionary defines balance as: 

  • an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady 
  • put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall 
  • an instrument for weighing 
  • an oscillating wheel operating with a hairspring to regulate the movement of a timepiece 
  • physical equilibrium 

Perhaps you have also heard people say things such as, “My balance has always been bad”, or “Poor balance is a part of getting old”, or even “I am thinking about getting a stick now that my balance is so bad” 

 
So in your context, what is balance? 

Maintaining ones balance depends on the following 3 processes happening: 

  1. Your sensory system accurately portraying information on your body’s position in its environment  –  Hearing, vision and touch (such as our feet on the floor) 
  2. Your brain processing that information  –  Neurons, sensory receptors in the brain and the decision making centres. 
  3. Your muscles and joints coordinating movement based on the information your brain gives them  –  Being able to contract and relax to move how you want to. 

These 3 factors are usually an automatic process for our body, and so when we feel our balance worsening, we need to explore which of these steps are not working how they should. 

Most of the time, poor balance is a combination of a few factors, each adding a little bit to our instability. It is important to explore each of these factors and see which are lacking. Most of the time our balance problems can be anticipated and corrected if we know what to look out for. 
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Are you at risk of falling?

Are you at risk of falling?

Improved health care has lead to an unprecedented growth in the older population and soon there will be more adults over 65 than children under 5 years of age. However, the incidence of falls is also increasing and fall injuries are now among the 20 most expensive medical conditions.

As seen in the image above, 1 in 3 individuals over the age of 65 falls once a year, and of those who fall, half will fall recurrently. By the age of 80 the proportion of older adults who fall annually increases to 50%. Falls lead to morbidity and mortality and can have serious implications on the individual as well as on the global population.

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