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 #6 -- Get your feet off the ground! (And make it an everyday practice.)
I know I tell this story all the time, but it was such an eye-opening experience for me - and it changed my entire approach to fitness so much - that I can't quite let it go yet. About 10 years ago, my mom fell off a counter stool in my kitchen and broke her ankle. She lived with Tom and I for 6 weeks following her surgery while recuperating. It was . . . kind of a nightmare. She was unable to put any weight on her foot for four weeks after surgery, which meant she needed a walker, crutches, or a wheelchair. We needed to go with the wheelchair option because she (a) didn't have the upper body/arm strength for crutches, and (b) she was unable to "hop" to scoot around with a walker.
And that was shocking to me. Because my mom appeared to be in good shape for a 75-year-old woman. She was active. She worked out regularly. But . . . she didn't do any strength work. And . . . she had lost the ability to get her feet off the ground.
Through the physical and occupational therapists working with her during this time, I learned that many people - as they age - lose the ability to get their feet (and, therefore, their bodies) off the ground, even for the quick moment it takes to "hop" with a walker. They explained that while we have lots of opportunities to run and hop and skip when we're children, we just . . . lose that "airborne state" as we get older.
Not only does this lack of an "airborne state" impact the ability to use a walker, but it also impacts gait - the way we move our feet when we walk. I'm sure you've noticed older folks "shuffling" when they walk? Their feet are no longer leaving the ground -- and that makes them more susceptible to tripping over uneven floor surfaces and rugs.
Why does this happen? Like so many other things, it's lack of muscle tone. It takes effort to lift a heavy leg off the ground! And, like all muscles, if you don't use it . . . you lose it.
This month's fitness challenge is a simple one: do something to get your feet off the ground every day. Maybe you . . . skip down the hall. Or gallop on your way to the laundry room. Maybe you'd prefer to do a couple of jumping jacks. Or hop up and down a few times before you load or unload your dishwasher. It doesn't have to be "fancy" or for very long. Just . . . get your feet off the ground!
(And if you discover you're not able to skip, hop, gallop, or do jumping jacks . . . make sure you practice lifting your feet off the ground while you're sitting in a chair. Once you get your leg used to lifing off the floor again, then you can try the skipping again.)
Practicing this fun - and rather silly - movement every day just may keep you away from a wheelchair someday. (And it should help you avoid that "old person shuffle" when you walk.)
So pick up those feet.
Previous Get Strong Monthly Fitness Challenges: