Feel Better... Live Better
Building a Better Bone and Brain Health Exercise Program
(Part 2 of 4)
by Woody McMahon
Phase 1 Improving or Re-Starting Your Fitness Program
In the last article I spoke extensively about exercise and its beneficial effects on your physical and mental health. I also briefly outlined the three phase approach that I have adopted after extensive research into adult fitness programs. I came to the conclusion that exercise programs developed for over age 50 adults must be different. Why? Because older adults have different goals and needs than their younger counterparts. They also have many more health problems (mental heath as an example) that must be addressed in any well designed fitness program. Combined, these differences scream for a new, more novel, more scientifically supported approach to fitness.
The Three Phase Approach
Last time I said the exercise programs that you find at the local health club, YMCA or Yoga center are not well designed or suited for the fitness needs of older adults. Many of these programs have exercise safety issues and increase, not reduce the risk of fractures. Put another way, the exercises place abnormal stresses on the body creating safety concerns, don't address spinal and hip stabilization and are not targeted to ADL's. I also suggested that a well designed exercise program for bone and general health must contain three phases allowing the body to transition from a sedentary to active state.
Today's article is going to focus on Phase 1. This phase provides activities to increase muscular stabilization. What does that mean? It means that the exercises that you learn in Phase 1 are designed to stabilize and support your spine and hips. These are the very joints that are most vulnerable to fracture and are most needed in more advanced balance and fall prevention activities. After careful study, I have adopted the Sara Meeks, PT exercises because they are an excellent first step to better bone, back and general heath. You can watch a demo video here.
Phase 1 Preventing Spine and Hip Fractures
The spine and hips are the foundation of your body. Fractures in these two areas of the body have life changing consequences. Many people do not survive a hip fracture or if they do, their quality of life is greatly reduced. Research has shown that the muscles that surround and attach to the hips and spine help protect these two important area of your body from fracture. Stronger muscles stabilize and strengthen these areas helping reduce fractures as well as improving your ability to move, stay independent and have fun in life.
The Meeks Method
Bone and spine health are a big concern for everyone over age 50. Back problems, hip and knee pain, shoulder and neck trouble, arthritis and osteoporosis, along with a host of other medical problems, complicate any fitness program. The exercises developed by Sara Meeks, PT and included in The Meeks Method are a great starting point for every older adult. Practicing and gaining mastery of the exercises helps reduce or eliminate many of the above mentioned painful bone health problems. These exercises remain as the foundation for any well designed adult exercise program.
When diagnosed, most women get hyper-focused on their bone density score instead of their fracture risk. Reducing or eliminating fractures is the key. If you don't fracture then if really doesn't matter what your bone density score is or does. Something that also gets lost in the mix is that stronger stabilization muscles help reduce fractures. With a diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis most doctors will recommend weight bearing exercise, weight lifting exercise or Yoga along with walking. Unfortunately even though this is well intentioned advice, it is not the best course of action. Learning the Phase 1 exercises and postural changes first is the best way prevent fractures and increase both stability and safety.
Back pain needlessly affects millions of people every year. The Phase 1 exercises are a potent way to reduce and eliminate back problems. Improving muscular strength in the spine and hips as well as increasing spinal and hip stability solves most common back complaints. Practicing and following the Phase 1 exercises and postural changes helps eliminate back problems forever and lays the foundation for the more advanced Phase 2 and 3 exercise programming.
Phase 1 Science-Based Exercise Tips
Following my three phase fitness approach increases the safety, effectiveness and function of your exercise program. Make sure to watch the video above and next time we will flush-out the details of phase 2 and 3. In the mean time, for increased safety and effectiveness, consider the following:
- Learn and practice the Phase 1 exercises and postural changes daily.
- Sit less and stand more in all aspects of your life.
- Limit or eliminate your seated exercise time by shifting to standing exercises instead.
- Eliminate the treadmill and bike and instead use dynamic walking, balance and/or walking pole drills.
- Practice your balance exercises daily.
- Remember your posture has a greater positive or negative 24 hour effect on your body than all of the exercises you will ever perform.
Until next time....
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