If you want to stay active when you’re older, make the right moves now.
Try these five, easy exercises to help you age well.
1). High Knee or Athletic Skipping. This exercise promotes good
posture, plantar flexion, dorsi-flexion, hip extension, hip flexion, balance,
bone density, arm swing, and lower body power, (fast twitch muscle fiber
This exercise has many positive benefits associated with it than almost any
other exercise. It is easy to learn and can be done almost anywhere. This
exercise is going to take the most time to demonstrate.
2) Ankle Mobility. This is done by positioning an inch to two inch
book on the floor so that a counter top can be used for support. The balls of
the feet are placed on the book and the hands on the counter top. Without
bending or breaking the hips (as if a cast is on your pelvis) press the knees
forward straight ahead 10 times. After which, the knees will be pressed
forward at a forty five degree angle on both sides. This is different than a
Good ankle mobility is critical for us to develop to prevent from shuffling as
we get older as you see many older adults do later in life – again, not
because of aging but because of a solidifying ankle joint. Good ankle
mobility is also a strong contributor to better balance which is a major
concern among this population. It also aids in healthier and better
3). Quick Shuffle. This is simply done by sitting on the edge of the
bed with both feet touching to the floor. More specifically, the balls of the
feet touching the floor. As quickly as possible, shuffle (quick small stutter
steps) the feet with very small stutter steps for only 3-5 seconds. Do 3-5
sets before standing.
Many older adults take one or several trips to the bathroom in the middle of
the night. Many falls occur during this time. This exercise will warm-up and
activate the proprioceptors in the feet, calves and legs, allowing for a better
sense of balance and movement prior to walking. This can also be done after
any time after someone has been sitting for a long time.
4). Leg Swing for Hip and Ankle Mobility. This is again done by
standing next to a counter top for support. While facing the counter top and
both hands on the counter top, swing one leg (initiating from the hip) from
side to side.
This exercise improves hip and ankle mobility at the same time. Improving
hip mobility is important for promoting better movement and injury
5). Power Squat. Sit on the edge of a chair with arms crossed and
stand up as quickly as possible. It is important to lower down slowly, but
then to explode back up as quickly as possible.
Power movements elicit the utilization of the type II or fast twitch muscle
fiber. As we age we lose muscle, that is, both slow and fast twitch muscle
fiber. The kicker is however, we lose the fast twitch muscle fiber at twice the
rate at the slow twitch muscle fiber. It is imperative- that we do things to
regain our rapid movements. This is important so that we can walk with-3-3
good speed later in life and quickly recover if we have had a stumble to keep
from falling. We have found that a person’s inability to get up from a chair is
more indicative of the inability to produce power than strength. In other
words, yes, strength is important but power is more so for aging well.
Paul Holbrook is a gerontologist, fitness trainer and owner of Age