One of the things I've been paying a lot of attention to lately is elderly patients that come in where I work, and one of the common things I see repeatedly in many patients is loss of strength and flexibility. They are weak, stiff and shuffling around. Please don't misunderstand, it's not that they have an illness, they're stiff and rigid. And when I come across a patient that has taken care of themselves, they move gracefully and with fluidity. They can get up out of a chair with ease and not have to take time to get their legs moving. The patients that have lost strength and flexibility suffer more trips and falls and more fractured bones. Throughout our lives we all are at constant war against the aging process. It can be a slippery slope. Our friend Mike, who is paralyzed from the waist down, says, "We have a choice. We can choose to sit around all day on the sofa pressing the remote, or we can keep fighting and struggling to keep moving". Mike chooses to keep moving to the best of his ability.
|A) Slippery slope B) not so slippery slope|
My new position with Mission Health has been refreshing because of their Health and Wellness program. They have a variety of innovative programs, resources and technologies to inspire, support and energize you to be the healthiest you can be. In their library of information, I came across an article that sums up our goal of overall fitness and what we are trying to achieve. The article discussing three kinds of fitness: aerobic, muscle strength and flexibility. Understanding the differences between each kind of fitness helps us set fitness goals, and reaching a balance between the three is important, because they affect each other and each contribute to total fitness
The Three Kinds of Fitness
Aerobic fitness. Aerobic activities condition your heart and lungs. Aerobic means "with oxygen." The purpose of aerobic conditioning is to increase the amount of oxygen that is delivered to your muscles, which allows them to work longer. Any activity that raises your heart rate and keeps it up for an extended period of time will improve your aerobic conditioning.
Muscle Strengthening. Stronger muscles can mean either more powerful muscles that can do bigger jobs (such as lifting heavier weights) or muscles that will work longer before becoming exhausted (endurance). Weight training (resistance training) or simple exercises such as push-ups are two examples of ways to focus on muscle strengthening.
Flexibility. Like aerobic fitness and muscle strengthening, flexibility is a result of physical activity. Flexibility comes from stretching. Your muscles are repeatedly shortened when they are used, especially when exercising. They need to be slowly and regularly stretched to counteract the repeated shortening that happens through other activities.
77-year-old ultra runner Barbara Macklow endures
So these are the areas that Bart and I will be working on to achieve total fitness as we both head into the next decade of our lives in the hopes that when life does have its set backs, we will not choose to sit around but continue to fight and keep moving.