Wellness Wednesday…Fall Proof! Part 3

senior-fall-prevention-tips-300x300Happy Wednesday! We’ve made it to part 3 and the final article in our Fall Proof! series. In the previous articles, we learned about balance and stability and looked at specific exercises you can do to improve YOUR balance. Today, we’re going to look at ways to Fall Proof! your house and prevent a fall before it happens.

The American Occupational Therapy Association states that falls are the leading cause of injury and accidental death in adults over the age of 65. Clutter and other tripping hazards, poor balance, and distractions can all cause you to stumble and fall. The following tips can help you reduce your risk of falling.

To Reduce YOUR Risk of Falling:

  • Remove clutter in your home and walk carefully when there are potential hazards.maxresdefault-2
  • Watch out for your pets! They have a tendency to get under your feet and can cause you to trip and fall.
  • Remove throw rugs or secure them firmly to the floor.
  • Never stand on a chair or similar item to get to something you can’t reach. Ask for help or use a sturdy stool with handrails.
  • Don’t use a towel bar or the edge of your sink for support. They might not be sturdy and could come away from the wall. If needed, consider installing permanent railings or grab bars in appropriate locations throughout your house.
  • Use a rubber mat or nonslip strips on the floor of your tub or shower to prevent slipping.
  • Immediately wipe spills off the floor and use a rubber-backed bathmat to prevent the bathroom floor from getting wet. Even a small amount of water can lead to a slip.LED-Night-Light-GAL000-NightLight.Gallery
  • Use a nightlight in the bedroom and bathroom.
  • Stay active to maintain overall strength, endurance, and balance.
  • Know your limitations. If there is a task you cannot easily complete, do not risk a fall by trying to do it.


For more information on fall prevention, visit http://www.aota.org/Practice/Productive-Aging/Falls.aspx

Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!




Wellness Wednesday…FallProof! Part 2

Welcome to FallProof! Part 2. Today we’ll continue our discussion on balance and stability by looking at five unique exercises you can do anywhere, any time. These moves consist of standing balance challenges that emphasize lower and upper body, as well as, core control. If any of the exercises prove to be too difficult, skip it for now until you’re stronger. If you continually work at it, you’ll be there before you know it.


Side “X” Balance Reach

Start by standing on your right leg and lean your entire body towards the right. Raise your right arm towards the sky. When you’re ready, lift your left leg just a bit, so it’s slightly off the floor. The body will make half an “X” shape in this position. Try to balance as long as you can, for up to 2 minutes. If needed, you can touch your toes down but try to raise them again as quickly as you can. Repeat on the other side, and see if one side is better than the other.



Stand and Twist

Stand – Start by standing on the left leg and raise the right knee. Try to lift the knee until your upper thigh is parallel to the floor. If that’s too difficult, just raise your right heel off the floor.

Twist – Bring your hands together in a prayer position and move your arms across your body, so your fingers are pointed to the right. Hold this position for 1 minute.


Added Challenge – If you feel stable in the position above, you can make it even harder by moving those arms. While your knee is still lifted, move your praying hands in a figure 8 motion in front of your body. The bigger you make the figure 8, the harder it will be. This exercise is very challenging, so only attempt it when you feel ready.


Raised Hinge

Start – With your feet about hip-width apart, lift your left heel off the ground. Then with your hands at your hips, slowly fold forward over your hands. Make sure you bend at your hips and not your back. You want to keep your back nice and straight. If your hamstrings are tight, you can slightly bend your knees to make it more comfortable.

Move – Continue to bend down and stand back up straight for the duration of 1 minute. You’ll feel like you’re repeatedly bowing down to someone. Once you do 1 minute on this side, repeat with the other heel raised, concentrating on keeping the spine long and strong.



Reach for the Sky

Squat – Start with your feet hip-width apart and lower to a sitting position while leaning against a wall. When doing this, make sure you can still see your toes. This will minimize the pressure on your knees.

Arms – For 1 minute, slowly slide your arms and thumbs up and down the wall like you’re making a snow angel on the wall.

This exercise will help to strengthen the muscles in your legs and give you a great stretch all the way from the hips to the shoulders.




Skating Balance Reach

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart with a chair in front of you for support. Raise your left arm up over you head and simultaneously extend your right leg back. (If you can let go of the chair while doing this, go for it.) Slowly lower to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Continue this movement for up to 2 minutes, moving slowly and deliberately like you’re ice skating in super-slow motion.



Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!



Wellness Wednesday…Fall Proof! Part 1

balanceAccording to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, one in three adults aged 65 and over will fall each year. That’s a lot of people! But, here’s the good news – you don’t have to be one of them. Over the next few weeks, let’s talk about balance… how it works, why you might be finding it difficult these days, and how you can improve YOUR balance with specific exercises. Welcome to Part 1 of our Fall Proof! series.

How Balance Works

In order to maintain your balance, your brain uses information from three sources. The first source is your vestibular system. This refers to your inner ear and accounts for about 60% of the information that goes to your brain about balance. The other 40% is divided between your eyes and your body’s sense of its muscles and joints, which is known as proprioception. You feel dizzy or off-balance when these three sources of information don’t correspond.middle-ear-infection


What Causes Balance Problems?

There are many causes of balance problems, especially as you age. Let’s look at some of the culprits.

Aging – It turns out that as you age, the three systems we discussed above just don’t work the same. There’s a decline in the ability of these systems to receive and integrate sensory information, which contributes to poor balance.medicine-exports


Medications – Some types of drugs can make you feel dizzy. This can include antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, drugs to control high blood pressure, sedatives, and tranquilizers.


Inner Ear Problems – If you suffer from inner ear problems, your sense of balance may be jeopardized. Remember from above that 60% of your balance information comes from your vestibular system. That means that conditions such as vertigo, ear infection, Meniere’s disease, and migraines can have a great affect on your balance.



Reduced Blood Flow – You can experience an unbalanced, dizzy sensation if your brain doesn’t receive enough blood. This can occur for a variety of reasons. Low blood pressure, for example, can lead to dizziness when you stand up too quickly. Other conditions that can affect your balance are congenital heart disease, atherosclerosis, heart arrhythmias, stroke, and TIA.


Neurological Disorders – The brain, spinal cord, and nerves make up your nervous system. Together they control how your body works; thus, diseases of the nervous system can have a strong influence on your sense of balance. Some of these conditions include people who have had a stroke or suffer from spinal cord injury. Also, people with Parkinson’s disease and CMT can experience balance issues.


What Can I Do to Improve MY Balance?

There are a number of exercises designed specifically to help you improve your balance. These exercises are geared towards improving the function and coordination of those three systems involved in sending information to your brain and keeping you stable. Here are a few examples.1298453104_fitdome_leg-lift-standing


You can strengthen your eyes and visual system by standing on an unstable surface (like a foam pad, balance board, or Bosu) while staring at a spot on the wall straight ahead of you. In this case, you’ll rely on your eyes and visual acuity to continually focus on the wall ahead and keep you upright. When you stand on the unstable surface, you reduce the proprioception in your feet because you can’t get a sense of your body position from the solid floor. Thus, your visual system must do the work.


On the other hand, you can do specific exercises to strengthen those proprioceptors and aid in your position and movement relative to your support surface. You can improve this system (technically referred to as the somatosensory system) by standing with your feet flat on the floor. You won’t stand on an unstable surface for this one because you will be depending on the feeling in your feet to stand upright. In order to boost this system, though, you must disrupt your visual system. Otherwise, your eyes will take over. One way to do this is by holding a book out in front of your face and reading out loud as keep your balance.


balance-exercises-for-seniors-1As we continue to look at balance exercises, you’ll see they range from activities that are static, or motionless, which make you hold a certain position to activities that involve movement patterns. Both are important because you not only need to have balance when you’re standing still, but also as you move about your day. Stay tuned next week for more details about the exercises discussed above and for our continuation of Fall Proof!  We’ll look at additional exercises that you can do to improve your current sense of balance, reduce your fear of falling, and keep YOU steady on your feet.


Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!



Wellness Wednesday…Fit Fingers & Healthy Hands

Do you suffitness_by_finger_weight_lossfer from high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, trigger finger, or other conditions of the hands or wrists? If so, performing exercises and stretches for your hands and wrists may help. Researchers have found that strengthening the muscles in your hands can lower blood pressure, especially systolic pressure (or the top number). In addition, tailored hand exercise programs have been shown to improve the function of rheumatoid hands. And, those worried about developing carpal tunnel syndrome may benefit from strengthening the wrist flexors and extensors.

Spinach on  white

Over the past two weeks, we held a special 2-class Fit Fingers and Healthy Hands workshop at Roser Community Church. During the class, we executed over 25 stretches and exercises and discussed the top 10 foods for healthy hands, fingers, and wrists. One of those foods is spinach because of its rich supply of vitamin B6, and research has shown that vitamin B6 may offer pain relief for individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome. How cool is that?


Today I want to share two of my favorite stretches and one strength exercise for your hands. These are easy, at-home activities you can do anytime. You can even do them while watching TV, so you don’t have any excuses!


Individual Finger LiftDSC01059

  • Place your hand, palm down flat on a table.
  • Lift one finger and hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Lower that finger and lift the next one.
  • Repeat with all fingers (on both hands) until you lift each of them a total of 4 times.

*Helps with range of motion and flexibility in your fingers.


Thumb ExtensionDSC01060

  • Place your hand, palm down flat on a table.
  • Gently move your thumb away from your other fingers as far as you can.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat for a total of 4 times on each hand.
  • Tip – add resistance by wrapping a rubber band around your hand at the base of your fingers and top of thumb.

*Strengthens the muscles of the thumbs, which helps you grab and lift heavy objects like cans and bottles.


Full GripDSC01087

For this exercise you’ll need theraputty (a silicon-based material used for hand exercises), a tennis ball, or a sock rolled into a ball.

  • If using theraputty, roll the putty into a ball.
  • Place the ball in the palm of your hand and wrap your fingers and thumb around the ball like you’re making a fist.
  • Squeeze the ball for 5 to 10 seconds.DSC01088
  • Repeat in other hand.
  • Gradually build up to do this 10 times in each hand.




Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!