Life’s Little Changes - South Sound YMCA

Life’s Little Changes

By Steve Messman, YMCA Personal Trainer

Hello YMCA members. My name is Steve Messman. I am a South Sound YMCA personal trainer with specialties in both Senior Fitness and Functional Movement. As a senior, myself, this article about change definitely hits home.

Change. Isn’t it great? Every minute of every day some physical aspect of our lives changes. One day you stand up from the dinner table and fall backwards into the chair. WHY DID THAT HAPPEN?? Or one day you are sweeping the floor. That sudden twinge in your back has you bed-ridden for the next six days. WHAT THE?? Or you catch your foot on the hallway runner. Your reflexes are too slow and your muscles too weak to stop the downward spiral. HELP!! I’VE FALLEN! I CAN’T GET UP. Change is scary, but the good news is that we have some control, not necessarily over the changes that befall us, but certainly over how those changes impact our lives. Truth: we can make changes in our own lives that will help overcome those forced upon us by age, illness, disease, or injury. Here are some simple changes we can make that can significantly improve how we function every day.

BE POSTURE AWARE. Our posture should be tall and straight, our heads tall on our shoulders, eyes forward. Our spines should be tall, our shoulders square. Squeeze your shoulder blades together several times daily. Shrug on occasion. Maintain a head-up position, especially when walking. A forward-leaning head can cause balance issues as well as an aching back, shoulder muscles and joints.

PRACTICE BALANCE CONTROL. Do simple and SAFE balance exercises. With your hands on a wall or chair, stand on one foot for several seconds. Switch feet. Stand on one foot and raise yourself onto your toes. Hold a few seconds. Eventually, with practice, keep your hands near, rather than on, the wall or chair.

DO SQUATS & LUNGES. While seated, fold your arms across your chest and stand without support three or four times. Picking up your grandchild? Do so by squatting. Groceries on the floor? Pick them up from a squat. Tying your shoes? Do so in a lunge. Drop your pencil? Pick it up in a lunge. Squats and lunges are two of the most important exercises we can do as we get older. Why? Because these are the muscles and the motions necessary to get off a chair, to stand up from the floor, to get out of a car, to get up from the toilet.

WALK, WALK, WALK…like your life depends on it—and it kinda does. Choose the parking spot farthest from the entrance. Take an extra lap around the store. Do a brisk walk around the block.

CLIMB STAIRS. Stop taking the escalator. Take the stairs. Have stairs in your house? Go up and down a couple extra times a day—just because.

REMEMBER. If you are not building muscle, you are losing muscle. An evil named Sarcopenia attacks us all near age 40. Sarcopenia results in the loss of about a half pound of muscle every year. Your body weight doesn’t actually decrease a half pound a year. It stays the same, or even increases. That means you are losing a half pound of muscle every year and gaining a half pound or more of fat. You can change that with a change in daily habits, a good diet, and a good exercise routine. This adage is true. Use it or lose it.

Ready for that change? Contact a personal trainer or nutritionist at your local YMCA.