So we’re half way through January, we had some snow and ice last week and there may be more making pavements slippy… Every day on the news we’re hearing about the NHS struggling under pressure to meet our ever increasing demands and our A&E departments doing their best under difficult conditions…. It seems more important than ever to do what we can to take care of ourselves! To take responsibility for our own well being, in ALL areas of our lives:- reducing stress levels, exercising more, healthy eating….and so on.
I know that I share this outlook with all my class members, and private clients, who include pilates in their week and I feel like we’re really doing our bit to look after our bodies and lessen the reliance on our health services. It’s brilliant and I’m proud to be a part of it.
- Given that A & E may be a place we want to avoid right now, and that the most common reason for older adults to go to A&E is due to falling…guess what we’re doing in classes this week – yep standing BALANCE WORK, and lots of it!
Good balance requires different systems of the body to work in harmony – try standing on one leg and turning your head one way and then the other…..is one way wobblier than the other? The inner ear (vestibular system) is responsible for giving feed back to the brain when we change head position and it’s a mechanism that can deteriorate with age but improves with practice.
Proprioception is important for staying on our feet – “it’s the ability to know where your body is in space”. It’s how we know how high to lift our foot when going up stairs, with out looking down at our feet. Pretty important, if we want to avoid tripping! Pilates helps develop this ability through controlled, precise movements.
And muscular strength of legs and buttocks needed to take our weight when standing on one leg – Pilates tones those muscles needed to support us. And yes CORE Strength which we improve every time we challenge our balance – it’s not all about curl ups!
Here’s another balance exercise to try – stand as if you’re on a tight rope, one foot in front of the other (heel to toe), close your eyes and count how many seconds you can hold the position for. Now swap with the other foot in front..repeat and compare sides…is there a difference?
These balance exercises and more will be added to an exercise sheet at the the end of the week, for those who’ve told me they want to practice at home..or in the post office queue…or whilst waiting for a bus/ plane…you get the idea!
Some more facts to ponder…..
- 7000 people die every year in the UK from a fractured hip following a fall.
- Specific exercise Programmes can reduce the risk of falls by an estimated 55% .
- Falls cost the NHS £6m PER DAY.
- Falls destroy confidence, increase isolation, and reduce independence, at any age!
- Balance can be improved with practice.
So let’s stay balanced folks!