We got some nice feedback recently about our new Functional Independence video on the “Chair Stand” technique. The tutorial explains some simple but effective biomechanics for standing up out of a chair more efficiently. Our video was able to help some seniors that we will never meet in person. That makes us feel good because it has always been part of our Lean Berets objective to have a general population reach–that includes our elderly who deserve to be treated with respect.
We have worked with numerous seniors over the years. They taught us more than we taught them in many ways. What have we learned from working with seniors from 70-90+ years old? Let’s look at two categories. The first is what they taught us, and the second is more of a textbook definition.
Aging Well Definition #1: What have actual seniors taught us about fitness? Dignity. What they want more than anything else is to maintain dignity. How does one maintain dignity? Largely–by remaining independent. How does one maintain functional independence? By being strong enough to perform daily tasks. *See below for “Strength” details.
We have not met seniors wanting to “give up function.” We have worked with hundreds over the years seeking to maintain function which gives them dignity. For the proactive seniors, they do not want help getting out of a chair. They don’t want help going to the bathroom. They want to be able to get off the floor on their own. They want to live in their own place and do their own shopping and cooking. DIGNITY. Make a note of it.
Aging Well Definition #2 Textbook: There are three basic components of fitness as often stated below:
- Cardiovascular Fitness
What is “the most” important component of fitness for seniors? STRENGTH. Why? You don’t need much cardiovascular fitness to shop on your own or get off your own toilet. VO2 Max is not going to help you cook your own dinner. Take your time; you’ll get there eventually, but at least you can cook your own dinner and use your own toilet even if slow. What about flexibility? Don’t seniors get tight as they age? Sure. Decreased range of motion certainly can factor into limiting certain movements and tasks, but you’d be surprised what people can do even when tight if they are strong enough to pull and push. Strength? YES–STRENGTH. Strength lifts us out of bed in the morning, sits us down slowly with control in a dignified manner, allows us to descend upon the toilet, gets us in and out of the shower, in and out of car, and the list goes on and on for muscular strength.
Let’s dig even deeper under strength. What delivers strength? Lean muscle. So, one of the keys to aging well is having lean muscle mass. Without muscle–you are NOT strong. Without muscle, you will NOT have good structure. Without good postural structure, you will be injured more as you age because no matter what we do, we will weaken to some degree as we age–and the more out of balance our center of gravity, the easier it is to fall. The postural line or “structure” is critical to injury prevention for seniors–we can also call it “aging well.” Try to age well with a broken hip at age 75. NOT happening.
But what about dementia and brain fitness? Move well and move often–great for brain fitness. Don’t be fooled–no amount of crossword puzzles are a match for quality exercise in sensory-rich environments. We’ll take an outdoor trail hike or even a walk outside any day over sitting in a chair with a puzzle! Lots of seniors do crossword puzzles–in a rest home with little dignity. Look for future “Functional Independence” information from The Lean Berets soon if you want to learn more–and move better too.
Summary! Maintain dignity as a senior by remaining independent as long and as much as possible. Improve your odds at maintaining independence in activities of daily living by maintaining proper lean muscle mass. We are The “LEAN” Berets you know…for a good reason. It’s about aging well.
GET FIT. BE STRONG. If you don’t know how, hang out with us for a while. It worked for Jack LaLanne. It can work for you too.