12 Jun Fight Gravity: 5 Activities to Stay Active Your Entire Life
In the 18th century, Sir Isaac Newton famously sat under an apple tree and felt the effects of gravity. I’m sure getting struck on the head with a falling apple was a tangible reminder about the potential for gravity to result in aches and pains. Similarly, gravity can play a toll on our bodies as we age and result in potential problems. We now know that gravity is a constant force but sometimes it feels increasingly difficult to overcome. Fortunately, no matter one’s age, condition, or health status, the body has the ability to improve muscular strength and fight back against the push of gravity. Here are five exercises that will help you to maintain and improve your strength in order to stay active and mobile through the lifespan.
1. Sit-to-Stand (or Squats)
This exercise helps to strengthen the quadriceps muscles and hip extensors. Both of these muscles are used when rising from a seated position, ascending stairs, and when walking. Try for 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
If this exercise is difficult to perform initially, a good alternative is to perform a bridge.
2. Side-Lying Leg Lifts
This exercise helps to strengthen the gluteus medius, a muscle on the side of the hip that is crucial for balance. With this exercise, make sure that you keep your leg in a straight line with your upper body to ensure the correct muscles are being targeted. This is a difficult exercise so start with 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions and progress to sets of 15 reps when able.
3. Scapular Squeezes
Maintaining the strength of the muscles in the middle part of the back and shoulder blades helps to maintain proper posture. With this exercise, the emphasis is on pinching the shoulder blades together. Attempt 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
A slightly more difficult version is performing a rowing motion. You can use a resistance band or pulleys for an additional challenge but the emphasis is still on moving the shoulder blades together, not just pulling with the arms.
4. External Rotation of the Shoulder
This exercise focuses on the rotator cuff which allows us to use our upper extremities to perform daily activities and recreational hobbies comfortably. You can perform this exercise using the weight of the arm or add a small amount of weight (1-3 lbs) if you would like more of a challenge. Also, the towel roll near the elbow is important. Attempt 3 sets of 15 repetitions. You should feel fatigued by the end of the set, but should not cause pain or discomfort.
5. Single Leg Balance
Maintaining balance is a common concern by individuals through the lifespan. In order to improve one’s balance, it must be practiced just like any other skill. This exercise is a simple way to challenge one’s balance. However, the priority must be practice one’s balance in a safe manner. Make sure that you are near a sturdy object so that, if you start to lose your balance, you will have something nearby to grab onto. Attempt to stand for 10 seconds at a time, repeat 3-5 times on each leg.
Consistently performing these exercises will help you to stay active and keep your musculoskeletal symptom in top working order. Some people may require more specific instruction or modifications to certain exercises if any of the above movements are difficult or uncomfortable to perform. If this is the case, we would be happy to give you more personalized assistance. Stay active, stay healthy, be well!
Body One Physical Therapy is both locally-owned and operated, with three locations serving Central Indianapolis: North Indianapolis, Fishers, and Zionsville. Our team of expert Physical Therapists works with patients of all ages and activity levels and we’re ready to help you get back to feeling your best: call or click today!