Get Strong: Your Monthly Fitness Challenge Feb 2022
Several months ago, I introduced my monthly fitness challenge, explaining my "inspiration" and why I think it's so important to do strength work ESPECIALLY as we age. (You can read all about that here.)
How are you doing? By now, I hope you're having some success with my challenges. Keep up the good work. Every day! (And if you haven't started yet? Well. You can begin today!)
Here's this month's Fitness Challenge:
Challenge #5 -- Get down on the floor. And then get back up again! (And make it an everyday practice.)
Do you remember when you were a kid and you used to just . . . plop yourself down on the floor? It was effortless, wasn't it? You could just flop right on down. And then you could get yourself back up in an instant (and especially if the phone rang and you needed to race your sister to pick it up) (I'm sure it wasn't just us). Anyway, the sitting and rising? It was a Nothing Activity. No thought to it at all.
When was the last time you did that?
Yeah. I thought so.
As we get older, it's really important for us to build back that ability to get ourselves down on the floor -- and then back up again. Jane Hein, a physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic, suggests that older adults practice getting themselves down - and then up - off the floor every day. Why? Well . . . to help us avoid falls! You remember the poor lady on the commercial don't you? I've fallen and I can't get up . . . . We don't want that to be us! First, we want to Not Fall. And if we do (because it happens), we want to be able to get ourselves up.
Try the Sitting-Rising Test.
In the "sitting-rising" test, researchers measure how easy or difficult it is for middle-age and older adults to get up and down from the floor without assistance.
You can try a version of the test for yourself: Start from standing. Sit all the way down to the floor and then rise back up to standing. Use the least amount of support you need to stay stable and safe. Move as fast or as slow as you like — speed doesn't matter here.
If you can sit down and stand up without using your hands, arms, knees or furniture for support, you score a perfect 10. That's 5 points for getting down, and 5 points for coming back up. Each time you stabilize yourself by using another body part (other than your feet), take off one point.
If you didn't score a perfect 10, don't worry. It's not easy! A higher score (8-10 points) indicates that you have the strength and mobility to perform a wide range of daily activities. A lower score (0-3 points) indicates a more limited ability and an opportunity to improve your strength and mobility.
I first tried this test about 5 or 6 years ago. I could sit down without using my hands (although it wasn't pretty), but I couldn't get myself up without pushing off with one of my hands. I took the challenge -- and started practicing every day. It wasn't long before I could do it! A perfect 10 on the sitting-rising test. And I continue to do it every day (to keep myself in good sitting-rising shape).
Here's what it looks like. (And, yeah. This is me the other day after yoga. My "hair and makeup team" didn't show up for the shoot, but my trusty cameraman was totally on board.)
Try it! (Make sure you're in a safe spot when you do it, and don't worry if you struggle. That's normal, I'm afraid.)
If you scored a 10, BRAVO! Keep doing it . . . every day! (Use it or lose it.)
And if you didn't score a 10? No worries! You can improve your score by focusing on building your strength -- and with daily practice. Like I mentioned, the first time I tried this, I couldn't do it. Neither could Tom. But we kept practicing, and eventually, well . . . we developed the right muscles to do it every time. (And as you can see in my little video, the whole practice takes less than 15 seconds.)
One practice that worked for both Tom and I was to . . . "raise the ground" at first. We keep a little stool (from when our kids were small) in our closet (for reaching the high shelf). I got it out and used that to practice my sitting-rising. Once I was comfortable with sitting-rising from the stool, I moved on to the floor. You could also use the bottom step on your stairs or a yoga block or anything that brings the floor "up." Here's another high-quality home video of me doing the sitting-rising test with our little stool. . .
DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED if this test was hard for you! It's a place to BEGIN. And that's all it is. If your "test results" were not what you'd hoped for, or if you were too uncomfortable even trying the sitting-rising test (or if you just didn't feel you could try it safely), check out these six exercises to help you build strength to get started.
To maintain your ability to move up and down from the floor as you age, practice makes perfect. Be intentional about spending more time on the floor:
- Add floor stretches to the end of your workouts.
- Join exercise classes that include floor time — think Yoga or Pilates. There are plenty of online options to choose from!
- Forgo the couch. When watching TV or reading a book or meditating, sit on the floor instead of the couch or a chair.
So. There you go! This month’s fitness challenge is not easy - but it's really important: Get down on the floor. And then get back up again! Every day.
Previous Get Strong Challenges:
Challenge #4: Identify your core, learn how to engage it, and . . . do your Kegel exercises every day!
Challenge #3: Increase your physical activity every day.
Challenge #2: Stretch your hamstrings, activate those glutes . . . and spare your back just by changing the way you bend over.
Challenge #1: Strengthen Your Lower Body by Doing Body Weight Squats . . . All Day Long
Oh my goodness...thank you for this! This is something I have been wanting to work on but didn't know where to start. With 5 granddaughters I get up and down a lot when playing with them. BUT...it is UGLY and AWKWARD.. Your suggestions are great.
Posted by: Karen | 02/10/2022 at 07:48 AM
Sigh... this is my hard challenge. I confess... I am miserable at this and avoid getting on the floor at all costs (unless I am with the kiddos... but getting up is really not... pretty, lol)
You are so right and inspiring. Okay. I am in. I am going to make this a priority every day. And... maybe next month I will be able to tell you that there was incremental improvement!
Posted by: kat | 02/10/2022 at 08:20 AM
I'm with Karen in the Ugly and Awkward group (and using my hands) but now I have a place to start practicing. I was just thinking about this the other day when I was down on the floor of the MD house reattaching felt pads to the bottom of chairs. I practice balancing every day (so I don't fall) by standing on one foot with my eyes closed while I brush my teeth, and now I can practice getting up from the floor in case I do. Thanks!
Posted by: Bonny | 02/10/2022 at 09:06 AM
Good advice Kym! I'm another one who is plenty awkward and I do have to use my hands. Some of it is knee arthritis, some is excess weight I have put on. Now it is even more difficult as I wrenched my lower back the other day. OUCH!!! But I have a little stool in my office (right by Mabel's bird window) and I know I can get down and back up off of that with no problem. I like the link to the exercises to improve you ability - thanks for that. And, I like Bonny's idea of standing on one foot with eyes closed while brushing my teeth - I'm adding that to my repertoire!
Posted by: Vera | 02/10/2022 at 09:51 AM
Nothing shines a light on this ability/inability like having grandchildren!! I love that "raise the floor" tip!
Posted by: Vicki | 02/10/2022 at 10:00 AM
Look at you with your videos - I love them! I get down on the floor regularly now that we have Fred and George. And I squat down a lot because of the wood stove. None of those are intentional practices, though, and I like the idea of seeing how I do without using my hands and knees. I'm going to add this to my daily habit list! I'm also going to encourage Dale to try it with me. He really struggles with this since his accident.
Posted by: Carole | 02/10/2022 at 11:06 AM
This is actually something I practice everyday! I don't know where/when I read about this but the instructions were to basically get on the floor once a day.
I'm doing a workout thing with the Nintendo Switch and am up and down quite a bit, and I am convinced it is a life saver (in the future)!.
Posted by: kim in oregon | 02/10/2022 at 03:32 PM
another great practice, Kym - thank you! love all the comments about how grandchildren help with this - yes they do!!
Posted by: Mary | 02/10/2022 at 04:19 PM
I loved this post and what a great idea for a series. I do practice yoga everyday so I will make this part of my practice, you are so right that we need to be thinking about these things as we age.
Posted by: sustainablemum | 02/10/2022 at 05:05 PM
Hey, this is one I can actually do! I'm not sure if it's you who first mentioned it a couple of years ago or if I heard about it elsewhere, but it's been in the back of my head for years and I regularly test myself to see if I can still do it. I also have my (mostly) daily exercises that I do -- plank, deep knee bends, crunches, and pushups -- and have added stretches in the past year to increase my flexibility. While I can get up off the floor without too much effort, I will say that I am feeling my age when I sit too long on the floor!
Posted by: Sarah | 02/11/2022 at 07:57 AM
I’m a 9…one hand to get up - I know I could get up from a step so now I like the challenge! Doug and I just had a conversation about this (as I got up and down from the floor) and at my request he’s going to add this to his routine. You are the best for bringing all of this to us! xoxo
Posted by: Patty | 02/11/2022 at 06:05 PM
I find it easier to get up off the floor when it is warmer weather. And also when I had dropped a lot of weight a while back. It is now colder and my weight has been creeping back up (uo-oh). Looks like your daily get up off the floor exercise is a good idea. I can still suck in my stomach easily for a count of 10 so that’s something.
Posted by: Chloe | 02/12/2022 at 05:25 AM
Pretty sure I can't do this - yet. But I'm doing yoga more regularly, and I think I can get there.
Posted by: Pam | 02/12/2022 at 11:32 AM
What a great post! Read it, tried it, am telling all my family and friends about it! I had a 9, but there's definitely room for improvement!
Posted by: Debshepknits | 02/15/2022 at 09:52 AM