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: