We all know the phrase “aging gracefully”. This article will explore the benefits of two critical activities to help us age with more power, grace, and safety. The first is frequently getting your body down and up from the earth, and the second is maintaining comfort and confidence jumping off the earth and landing again. Why?
Tests To Gauge How You Are Aging
Let’s begin with getting on and off the floor. This activity certainly begins to get more difficult as we age, but maintaining the flexibility, strength, and coordination to do this with ease has been researched and the evidence is overwhelming. A 2014 study by the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology found a strong association between a low sitting and rising test (SRT) score and higher mortality rates. Each unit increase in the SRT score resulted in a stunning 21% improvement in survival over a period of 7 years!
Below is the Sitting-Rising Test used in the study. If you feel comfortable and want to test yourself this is how it is done.
Subtract 1 point when you use a body part (hand, knee, forearm, side of the leg, or hand on knee / thigh) for support each time while going to the floor or rising from it. For a great explanation of performing and scoring this test refer to YouTube video – “Sitting and Rising Test (SRT)” by WeBeFit.
Exercise Guide for Aging Stages of Ability
If this was hard or if you scored lower than you thought or hoped you would, there are some great exercises online for all ages and stages of ability. Simply search, “How to improve sitting rising test,” and have fun. The important thing is to do something to work toward improving your score every day.
Exercise routines that require you get to and from the floor are a great way to help accomplish this goal. Activities like yoga, floor Pilates, stretching, many core exercises, playing with children, your pet, or simply a habit of watching some TV from the floor are ways you can incorporate a variety of floor time back into your day. The evidence is clear, routinely getting on and off the floor can help us live longer, healthier lives.
The second key activity to maintain comfort and confidence with is jumping. Why is jumping so important? Jumping has many physical benefits including improved coordination, balance, ligament, muscle, and bone strength as well as circulation, cardiovascular fitness, and stress relief. Walking has always been explained to me as a series of controlled falls. It is important to maintain the ability to balance comfortably on one foot and to completely leave the ground and safely return. As we get a bit older, maintaining our ability to recover from small perturbations, slips, or loss of balance without falling can make all the difference in staying active.
Fun sports that meet the goal of jumping include tennis, dancing, aerobics, jogging, volleyball, and of course jumping rope just to name a few. If you are not currently engaging in any activities that facilitate you leaving the ground and returning but would like to start, it is important to work up slowly to avoid joint pain or injury.
Consider starting with standing on one foot and jumping onto the other foot. Use your hands for support on a countertop for these small jumps until you feel secure. A rebounder or mini trampoline is another gentle way to start and can be great for balance and coordination. Incorporating some gentle weight bearing plyometric activities to improve your leg strength will also help prevent injury.
Aging and physical decline are inevitable but maintaining these two physical skills can slow the clock and help you enjoy the journey.
Department of Physical Therapy
Center For Healing & Regenerative Medicine